Cruz Azul scores late to beat Tijuana


Andres Martinez

Luis Gonzalez, Sports Editor

Cruz Azul and Tijuana continued their preparation towards the Liga MX season tonight in El Paso at UTEP’s Sun Bowl Stadium. In front of a significantly pro-Cruz Azul crowd both teams battled for 90 minutes with La Maquina coming out on top 2-1.

Cruz Azul dominated the first half almost in its entirety.

The midfield composed of Gerardo Torrado and newly arrived Marc Crosas controlled the pace of the game. Midfielder Cristian Gimenez spent his time on the field playing in between the two center midfielders and Cruz Azul’s lone striker, contributing to the team monopolizing the possession.

“We’re understanding the system or what the coach wants from us,” said Gimenez. “There are things that we need to improve on, but in general the team is playing well together.”

The ball spent most of the first 45 minutes inside of Xolos’ half and it took 15 minutes before the team in blue created the first real opportunity on the opposing goal when Gimenez and left midfielder Joao Rojas combined down the left flank.

After two wall passes between the two, Rojas sent a low ball from the end line across the box that was headed straight for Cruz Azul’s Jeronimo Amione’s foot. However, Tijuana’s Javier Gandolfi was there a split second earlier and ended danger.

Cruz Azul continued to dominate but struggled to find any more clear chances on goal.

Just before the end of the half, at the 43rd minute, Cruz Azul’s Lucas Silva played a great ball into space to Amione who found himself heading towards goal with nobody but the keeper in front of him.

Amione got a step on Tijuana’s last man after running across the Xolo defense until the ball left Silva’s foot. Just as he prepared to finish on goal, Amione was clipped from behind. The match’s referee blew his whistle, pointed to the spot and Gimenez scored the penalty kick to send the game into halftime with Cruz Azul leading 1-0.

Tijuana made some adjustments coming out of the half and they quickly payed off.

Henry Martin had just been on the field for two minutes when in the 47th minute he found himself running towards goal, with the ball at his feet and just the keeper to beat. Martin tied the game up with a solid strike that left Cruz Azul goalkeeper Guillermo Allison with no chance to make the save.

The game was a lot more balanced from that point on, partly due to Xolos’ change in formation.

“We were playing with five in the back and switches to a 4-4-2,” said Tijauana’s midfielder Michael Orozco. “It was much better and it put pressure on all sections of the field.”

Tijuana created the most dangerous chances of the second half, taking advantage of Cruz Azul’s suspect defending on set pieces.

It seemed like every set piece Xolos had during the last 45 minutes of play resulted in some sort of danger for Allison’s goal.

It is something that concerns Cruz Azul coach Sergio Bueno.

“In our first (preseason) game against Pumas we got scored on a set piece,” Bueno said. “So we have to pay attention to those plays and keep working.”

Tijuana found success on set pieces, but it was a set piece that would decide the game against them. After a foul in the 78th minute, Cruz Azul right back Rogelio Chavez crossed a ball into the box from the right sideline into the second post. There, Silva rose above everybody else and connected with his head and into the opposing top corner of the goal.

It was Silva’s second goal of the preseason and as a member of Cruz Azul.

This was the third victory in as many preseason matches for Cruz Azul. They will now return to Mexico to finish off their preseason at home.

Xolos will play two more friendlies in American territory, first in Yuma, Az., against Liga MX’s Morelia on July 14 and then against Spanish Athletic Club de Bilbao on July 18 in Boise, Idaho.

Luis Gonzalez may be reached at [email protected]