Chivas lost the Club World Cup 5th place match, falling to Tunisia’s Esperance in penalty kicks.
Guadalajara meekly bid adios to 2018, losing on penalty kicks to Espérance de Tunis after an insipid 1-1 draw. Most of the Chivas played as if they were eager to get on the flight home from Abu Dhabi instead of putting on a good show. It was a forlorn end to Pepe Cardozo’s first season as manager.
Walter Gael Sandoval converted a penalty kick in minute 5 after a foul on Ángel Saldívar was spotted by VAR officials. Thirty-three minutes later, Espérance was awarded a penalty via the VAR when José Carlos Van Rankin committed a hand ball inside the box. Mohamed Youcef Belaili did the honors for the Tunisian club.
The Chivas enjoyed the better opportunities in the second half, but rarely threatened goalie Rami Jridi. Saldívar forced a sprawling save with a shot from distance in minute 73 and Michael Pérez let fly from outside the box in minute 82.
In between those two shots, Espérance midfielder Anice Badri was shown a second yellow card, but the Chivas failed to take advantage.
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The penalty kick shootout started well for the Chivas with substitute goalie Miguel Jiménez saving the first shot he faced after Saldívar had converted the first kick for Guadalajara. But Hedgardo Marín followed by firing his spot kick over the crossbar.
Van Rankin missed his kick with the tally 2-2, but Jiménez saved the next shot. The shootout went to sudden death with the score tied at 3-3 and each team made their first two shots, but then Isaac Brizuela scooped his shot over the crossbar. When Chamseddine Dhhaouadi converted his chance, the game was over.
It was a shame that Brizuela will feel like the goat because he was a constant for the Chivas during the match. At times, he seemed to be the only one playing with any ambition and he created opportunities from the wing and off the dribble that went awasting because his mates seemed to be playing with little interest.
There should be some questions asked about the roster and about Cardozo’s ability to inspire his players after a mediocre Apertura 2018 (11th place finish) and two losses at the Club World Cup. Injuries played a part, to be sure, but youngsters failed to step up when inserted, while Cardozo’s reluctance to use 19-year-old striker José Juan Macías more raised eyebrows. Cardozo didn’t even include Macías in his Club World Cup roster.
Up front, Saldívar has proven capable of finding space but tends to be wasteful. José de Jesús Godínez was once touted as the next big striker especially after his contributions to the Chivas’ Concacaf Champions League triumph. But he has regressed and he showed little on Tuesday.
Sandoval is the designated free kick taker but his centering passes off set plays left a lot to be desired. Pérez suffered an injury-riddled season, but he should be asked to work on his shooting skills.
The defense is already getting a makeover so we’ll leave analysis of the back line for a later date.
Legendary skipper Carlos Salcido came on to start the second half and he played stoutly as a defensive midfielder. In what was his final act as a Chivas player, Salcido converted his kick during the shootout.
Midfielder Orbelín Pineda also came on in the second half (in minute 64) and he too converted his penalty kick in the shootout. After the match, he thanked Chivas management and supporters as it has been announced that he will be moving to Cruz Azul.