Tag Archives: semifinal

Cruz Azul vs Real Madrid – Club World Cup

club world cup logoReal Madrid booked a place in the Club World Cup final with a 4-0 dismantling of Cruz Azul, who will have to content themselves with contesting the tournament’s third-place match.

Madrid was on the front foot from the beginning, with Jesús Corona forced into a point-blank save of a Cristiano Ronaldo shot in just the third minute. The UEFA champions kept pressing, and they got their reward in the 15th minute, when Corona came off his line on a set piece and was beaten to the ball by Sergio Ramos. The defender’s header found the back of the net to open the scoring and give Madrid the 1-0 lead.

Twenty minutes later, Karim Benzema got around Gerardo Flores in the box and shot through Corona’s legs to make it 2-0 for the Spaniards. Cruz Azul was floundering, but La Máquina was given a golden chance to reduce the deficit in the 40th minute.

Sergio Ramos took down Mariano Pavone in the box and referee Enrique Osses pointed to the penalty spot. Gerardo Torrado converted two penalty kicks in the quarterfinal round against Western Sydney Wanderers, but the third time was not the charm. Torrado’s spot kick was easily parried by Iker Casillas.

Two minutes later, Pavone found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but the striker took too long to make a decision and Casillas was able to take the ball off his feet. With that, Madrid took the 2-0 lead into halftime.

In the second half, Madrid continued from where they had left off. In the 50th minute, Gareth Bale made it 3-0 when he headed home a cross from Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo himself could have made it 4-0 minutes later, but the striker went for the trick shot – a rabona – and Corona was able to make the save.

Luis Fernando Tena turned to his bench, inserting Marco Fabián and Pablo Barrera in the 64th minute, and it very nearly paid off. Moments after entering the game, Barrera hit the post with a long-range shot that had Casillas beaten.

Unfortunately for La Máquina, that was about as close as they would get. Madrid continued to dominate the game and Isco put the icing on the cake with his 72nd minute goal.

With the 4-0 win, Real Madrid advances to the final, where they will face the winner of the San Lorenzo/Auckland game on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Cruz Azul will face the loser of that semifinal in the third-place match. Both games will be played on Saturday, December 20.



Cruz Azul: José de Jesús Corona, Julio César Domínguez, Gerardo Flores, Francisco Rodríguez, Fausto Pinto, Hernán Bernardello, Christian Giménez (Marco Fabián 64′), Joao Rojas (Ismael Valadéz 76′), Gerardo Torrado, Mauro Formica, Mariano Pavone (Pablo Barrera 64′).

Real Madrid: Iker Casillas, Marcelo Vieira, Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Danny Carvajal, Francisco Alarcón (Jese Rodríguez 76′), Asier Illarramendi, Toni Kroos (Sami Khedira 72′), Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo. 

Copa MX Semifinal: Tigres UANL vs Santos Laguna

copa mx logoSantos Laguna mounted a stunning comeback in the Volcán to defeat Tigres UANL 2-4 and book their spot in the final, where they will face Puebla.

Having apparently not learned their lesson from last weekend’s Clásico Regio, Tigres once again let a 2-0 lead slip – and this time they didn’t just draw, but lose. The night started brightly for the hosts, who opened the scoring in just the 8th minute. Emanuel Villa set up Damián Álvarez, whose diagonal shot beat goalkeeper Julio González to make it 1-0.

Tigres would quickly increase their advantage thanks to the unfortunate Javier Orozco. José Francisco “Gringo” Torres swung in a dangerous free kick; it hit the crossbar and bounced into the box, where the ball rebounded against Orozco, who could do nothing to prevent it entering his own net. It was the 11th minute and Tigres were up 2-0.

But Santos didn’t hang their heads. Coach Pedro Caixinha made a tactical change in the 21st minute, taking off Alonso Escoboza and sending on Djaniny Tavares. The Laguneros immediately began generating chances, with first “Chato” Rodríguez failing to capitalize on his opportunity and then Nahuel Guzmán making a good save to prevent Djaniny from scoring.

But the goal was coming, and in the 35th minute, it arrived. Carlos Darwin Quintero played the ball in from the right flank and Djaniny headed it past Guzmán to make it 2-1. It would be tied up before halftime.

In the 40th minute, Quintero sent a beautiful through ball through a crowd of Tigres players, where it fell perfectly for Andrés Rentería. He got around the goalkeeper and passed the ball into the empty net to make it 2-2.

The second half started the way the first half had finished: with Santos on top and Tigres reeling. The goal of the night came in the 59th minute, when Oswaldo Alanís hit a shot from within his own half, about 55 yards from goal. It looked overly ambitious on first glance, but Nahuel Guzmán could not backpedal fast enough and the ball dropped over him and into the empty net to give Santos the 2-3 lead.

Guzmán would play a role in Santos’s final goal as well. In the 64th minute, Quintero served in a free kick from midfield, and with Tigres’ defense apparently asleep, Javier Orozco easily beat Guzmán to the ball, heading it into an empty net to make it 2-4 in favor of the visitors.

It would get even worse for Tigres when a frustrated Damián Álvarez kicked Rodolfo Salinas in the back, earning himself a straight red card in the 72nd minute. The game would quickly be reduced to 10 vs 10, though, as substitute Ribair Rodríguez then kicked Egidio Arévalo to earn a red card of his own minutes later.

Santos Laguna will now host Pubela in the Gran Final, with the date and time set to be announced later today.


Copa MX Semifinals: Puebla vs Lobos BUAP

copa mx logoOnce again, Puebla took the game to penalty kicks, and once again, Puebla advanced.

La Franja had to fight back for the draw that took the game to penalities after the visiting Lobos BUAP of the Liga de Ascenso opened the scoring in the 30th minute. The Lobos looked like the better team throughout the first half, organized at the back and dangerous going forward, while Puebla was not firing on all cylinders.

The opening goal came from a set piece, with captain Omar Tejeda heading home a corner kick at the half-hour mark. “Chelís” rearranged his Puebla side for the start of the second half, and the insertion of Luis Loroña in particular would bear fruit: in the 75th minute, Loroña headed home a corner kick to tie the game 1-1.

Then it was just a matter of game management, made easier once Alberto Lucio was sent off for Lobos in the 87th minute.

The game then went to penalties, and if Alfredo Frausto wasn’t quite as heroic as in the quarterfinal shootout (where he made two saves and also scored one himself), he still managed to make his mark.

All five of Puebla’s shooters scored: John Freddy Pajoy, Mario de Luna, Francisco Torres, Luis Loroña and Cuauhtémoc Blanco, although it took Francisco Torres two tries: his first shot was saved, but the assistant ruled the goalkeeper had moved off his line and Paco scored on the retake. Blanco got it in one, but was then yellow carded for his traditional “arrow-shooting” celebration.

For Lobos BUAP, Omar Tejeda, Jorge Ibarra, Diego Jiménez and Ever Guzmán scored before Frausto saved Michel Velázquez’s effort to give Puebla the 5-4 win.

Highlights (including penalty shootout)

Liga MX in the World Cup: Argentina, Semifinals

argentina flagAfter a substitute appearance in the round of sixteen and a start in the quarterfinals, Monterrey’s José María Basanta was back on the bench for Argentina’s semifinal match vs the Netherlands.

He had made his first appearance of the tournament when he replaced an injured Marcos Rojo, but Rojo was back in the starting lineup tonight, reclaiming his spot in defense from Basanta.

Neither the Argentinian nor the Dutch defense were overworked in this one. Chances were few for both teams, with ESPN statistics revealing just 4 shots on goal for the Dutch and 5 for the Argentinians. The game remained goalless throughout the ninety minutes of regulation and the half-hour of overtime, which sent the game to penalties.

Goalkeeper Sergio “Chiquito” Romero then became the hero for Argentina, as he saved the first Dutch penalty, which allowed the South Americans to take the early lead when Leo Messi made his kick. The two teams exchanged makes, from Arjen Robben and Ezequiel Garay, before Romero saved Wesley Sneijder’s kick. Although Dirk Kuyt scored for the Netherlands on their fourth kick, penalties from Sergio Agüero and Maxi Rodríguez gave Argentina the win and a date with Germany in the final.

Next game: vs Germany – Sunday, July 13th – 3:00 PM – Univision/Univision Deportes/ESPN

Marco Rodríguez to Referee Brazil/Germany Semifinal

Marco-RodriguezMexican referee Marco Rodríguez, also known as “Chiquimarco”, has been assigned to the Brazil/Germany semifinal on Tuesday. This will be Rodríguez’s third game of the World Cup after he took charge of two group stage games, one between Belgium and Algeria and the other a rather more controversial game between Italy and Uruguay.

Rodríguez will be accompanied by assistants Marvin Torrentera and Marcos Quintero, both from Mexico, while the fourth official will be the USA’s Mark Geiger. This is the same all-CONCACAF team that refereed Italy/Uruguay (Rodríguez had a different fourth official in the Belgium/Algeria game).

After the refereeing controversies involving both the Brazilian national team and Rodríguez himself, and particularly given the magnitude of this match, all eyes will be on the man in the middle.

Where to watch: Brazil vs Germany – Tuesday, July 8 – 4:00 PM – Univision/Univision Deportes/ESPN.

Toluca vs León – Semifinal Second Leg

toluca leonLeón came into this game with a 1-0 lead, and they didn’t sit back looking to protect it. Instead, La Fiera went on the offensive, looking for the away goal that would put them in a much more comfortable position. Toluca, unbeaten in the Estadio Nemesio Diez this year, did not make good use of their home field advantage. Once again, the Diablos Rojos struggled to get involved in play while León controlled the ball and the rhythm of the game.

Alfredo Talavera was back in goal for Toluca, and Mauro Boselli was his biggest threat in the first half. Boselli sent a powerful header inches wide of the post just before the half-hour mark and had another shot saved in first-half stoppage time. Boselli also provided a dangerous pass to Carlos “Gullit” Peña, whose shot was saved by Talavera, who was the much busier of the two goalkeepers.

Despite León’s dominance, they went into halftime without the breakthrough. The 0-1 aggregate scoreline kept Toluca in the game, as all they needed was a 1-0 win to advance. A moment of extreme controversy changed the face of the tie just minutes into the second half. In the 49th minute, Juan José Vázquez took Carlos Esquivel down in the box. Vázquez caught Esquivel’s trailing leg, sweeping his ankle and pulling his leg out from under him.

It looked like a clear-cut penalty; instead, Roberto García Orozco called it the other way, giving Esquivel a yellow card for simulation. Two minutes later, “Gullit” Peña scored.

Luis Montes sent a cross in and Gullit was there to send it home, putting the ball in the upper corner and giving León the lead with a golazo.

With the 0-2 aggregate score – and León’s away goal – Toluca now needed to find three goals to advance. They were unable to find any, although Esquivel hit the crossbar.

The Diablos Rojos continued pressing forward, but the finishing just wasn’t there. Toluca lost their home unbeaten streak and the chance to reach their second final of the season (after the CONCACAF Champions League).

Meanwhile, León, the 8th seed who squeaked into the playoffs on goal difference after a win in the last game of the season, dispatched the number 1 seed in the quarterfinals and the number 2 seed in the semifinals in their quest to earn back-to-back championships. They’ll face off against Pachuca, their “brother” (the two teams are both owned by Grupo Pachuca) in the Gran Final this week. The official dates and times of the final will be announced on Monday, but the two legs are expected to be played on May 15th and 18th.



Toluca: Alfredo Talavera, Héctor Acosta, Aarón Galindo (Francisco Gamboa 37′), Paulo Da Silva, Miguel Ángel Ponce, Carlos Esquivel, Wilson Tiago, Sinha (Pablo Velázquez 46′), Antonio Ríos, Édgar Benítez (Isaác Brizuela 53′), Raúl Nava.

León: William Yarbrough, Jonny Magallón, Rafael Márquez, Juan Ignacio González, Edwin Hernández, Luis Montes, Juan José Vázquez, Carlos Peña (Aldo Rocha 81′), Elías Hernández (José María Cárdenas 34′), Mauro Boselli, Franco Arizala (Éisner Loboa 54′). 

Santos Laguna vs Pachuca – Semifinal Second Leg

santos pachucaPachuca came into this game looking to protect a 2-0 aggregate lead and reach the final in their return to the Liguilla after a three-season postseason drought. Santos Laguna came back from two goals down in the quarterfinals, and looked to mount a similar comeback tonight, but this time the away goals were not in their favor. Santos won, 4-2, but the 4-4 aggregate score favored the Tuzos due to their two away goals. Pachuca will play the winner of Toluca/León in the Gran Final.

Santos came out with a high-pressure, fast attack, and they put the visitors on the back foot early on. Pachuca’s defense was having a hard time keeping up with the speedy Carlos Darwin Quintero, and the ball stayed persistently in Pachuca’s defensive third. Santos won a series of free kicks and corner kicks, and in the 11th minute one of those set pieces paid off.

Juan Pablo Rodríguez sent in a corner kick, and Óscar Pérez came off his line to punch it away. “El Conejo” never reached the ball, however, and Rafael Figueroa was there to head it into the empty net, making the score 1-0 in the night and 1-2 on aggregate.

Santos poured even more pressure on after that, knowing that one more goal would be enough to send them through, but everything changed in the 20th minute. Oswaldo Sánchez and Enner Valencia both went in studs-up while contesting a ball in the box; Valencia turned aside, but Sánchez raked his cleats along Valencia’s shoulder. The striker went down holding first his head, then his shoulder, milking the contact. Referee Marco Antonio Rodríguez reached into his pocket and gave Sánchez a straight red.

The play was dead before the contact, so no penalty kick was given, but the red card seemed to be punishment enough. Sánchez wasn’t the only one sent off in the first half; Santos’s hot-tempered coach, Pedro Caixinha, was also given his marching orders for a separate incident a few minutes later.

Sánchez was replaced by 23-year-old Julio González, who has hardly played in the first division, and his inexperience quickly became glaringly obvious. In the 27th minute, González received a backpass and, with Enner Valencia pressuring him, he tried to dribble out of trouble instead of simply clearing the ball. Valencia won the ball away and took it into the empty net to make it 1-1 on the night and 1-3 on aggregate, giving Pachuca the first of their crucial away goals.

In the third of five minutes of first-half stoppage time, Dieter Villapando gave Pachuca the 1-2 lead (1-4 aggregate) with a powerful header from just inside the box.

At that point, Pachuca looked to be comfortably on their way to the final, but the game turned on its head once again in the second half. Walter Ayoví received a straight red of his own in the 63rd minute, making it 10 vs 10, and Santos found themselves back on the front foot. The Laguneros hit the woodwork twice in as many minutes before Juan Pablo Rodríguez leveled the score from the penalty spot in the 67th minute.

Santos struck from a set piece yet again ten minutes later, when Javier Orozco finished off Carlos Darwin Quintero’s corner kick in the 77th minute. Pérez got a hand to the ball, but was unable to keep it out of his net, giving Santos the lead on the night, although they still trailed on aggregate.

Rafael Figueroa ensured a nail-biting finale when he completed his brace in the 93rd minute, making it 4-2 Santos on the night and 4-4 on aggregate. Due to Pachuca’s away goals, the tied aggregate wasn’t enough for Santos, but it brought them back to within a goal of advancing. With the crowd roaring encouragement, Santos threw everything forward, but in the end there wasn’t enough time to complete what would have been a stunning comeback.

Pachuca will face either León or Toluca in the Gran Final, which is preliminarily scheduled for May 15th and 18th. The official dates and times will be announced on Monday.



Santos: Oswaldo Sánchez, Jonathan Lacerda (Javier Orozco 46′), Rafael Figueroa, Oswaldo Alanís, José Javier Abella, Ribair Rodríguez (Andrés Renteria 62′), Juan Pablo Rodríguez, Jesús Escoboza, Néstor Calderón (Julio González 23′), Oribe Peralta, Carlos Darwin Quintero.

Pachuca: Óscar Pérez, Rodolfo Pizarro, Miguel Herrera, Hugo Rodríguez, Daniel Arreola, Jorge Hernández, Walter Ayoví, Hirving Lozano (Diego de Buen 59′), John Fredy Pajoy (Jürgen Damm 46′), Dieter Villalpando (Efraín Cortés 67′), Enner Valencia. 

Liga MX Semifinal Preview: Sunday’s Game

Toluca vs León – 1:00 PM – Univision / Univision Deportes

León won the first leg 1-0 and now travel to the intimidating Estadio Nemesio Diez looking to protect that lead. Toluca are unbeaten at home in all competitions this year and know they need just a 1-0 win to advance, thanks to the higher-seed tiebreaker. But if León scores, Toluca will need to win by two due to the away-goals tiebreaker. A draw would also be enough to get the reigning champions back into the final for a second straight season.

Toluca will look to have Alfredo Talavera (called up for the Mexican national team’s World Cup squad) back between the sticks after the goalkeeper had to leave the first leg with dizziness after being struck in the face with a powerful shot. The Diablos Rojos will also want to see Isaác Brizuela (also called up), Édgar Benítez and Pablo Velázquez more involved in play, after Toluca’s attack struggled to get going in the Nou Camp.

As for León, they also have a number of representatives who will be wearing green jerseys in Brazil: Rafael Márquez, Carlos Peña, Luis Montes – who scored León’s lone goal in the first leg – and José Juan Vázquez.

León fought back from two goals down in the second leg of their quarterfinal match with Cruz Azul to reach the semifinal and knock out the number one seed, so Toluca won’t be able to relax even if they score first. Both teams will need to play smart soccer if they want to get to the final.