Necaxa stunned América, taking advantage of mistakes and scoring three second-half goals after falling behind only 5 minutes into the game.
América and Necaxa played their Matchday 1 fixture on Tuesday night in Estadio Azteca and the Rayos ignored the pundits, returning to Aguascalientes with all 3 points after a 3-1 win.
Heavy favorites América started out quickly, going on the attack with their new 3-headed offense. Coach Miguel Herrera started with three strikers on the field, opening the game with Roger Martínez, Nico Castillo and Henry Martín and it paid off early.
After a lengthy scramble in the Necaxa box, Martín pounced on a rebound inside the goalie box and slammed it into the net to put América ahead in minute 5. The Aguilas appeared ready to put an end to Herrera’s winless streak against the Rayos.
Necaxa pressed forward the rest of the half, but never really threatened Aguilas keeper Agustín Marchesin. On the other end, Hugo González made a nice save of a Martín shot in minute 43 to keep Necaxa in the match.
In minute 53, Cristián Calderón (pictured at top) made a diagonal run from his left back position that his teammates appeared to have missed and his marker stopped chasing. This was a mistake as the central defense was man-marking Necaxa’s forwards. Fernando González saw Calderón behind the defense and lofted a pass and, unmolested, Calderón finished to knot the score.
González then made two saves shortly thereafter, but Necaxa was under siege. That’s when Marchesín decided to play the goat.
The Rayos pursued a counterattack but lost the ball wide left. América’s Emanuel Aguilera stole the ball and fed back to Marchesín who mishandled the pass and his attempted clearance was blocked by Rodrigo Contreras, ricocheting to Brian Fernández who gathered in the ball just inside the box and fired into the empty net.
The goal was Fernandez’s 9th of the season, tying him with Angel Mena for the league lead. It also marked the 6th straight game Fernández in which he has scored, tying the club record set by Luis “El Matador” Hernández and Sergio “El Ratón” Zárate.
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Necaxa has made a habit of giving up leads late, but not on this night. González made three more key saves as América threw everything forward.
In stoppage time, Marchesín went into the Necaxa area to take part in an América corner kick but the cross was cleared out wide right to Fernández who fought Luis Reyes for possession near midfield. Fernández then spun and lofted a long cross-field pass to Felipe Gallegos who pushed it ahead to Calderón who one-timed it toward the empty net from 28 meters.
Coach Herrera and América twice defeated Necaxa in the Copa MX this season, but “El Piojo” has yet to beat the Rayos in a Liga MX match since returning to manage América in 2017. Necaxa was still in second division when Herrera coached América from 2012-2013.
The game was the second straight in Estadio Azteca for Necaxa as the Rayos lost to Cruz Azul 2-1 on Saturday night. With the win, the Rayos moved into 5th place with 14 points from 9 games (4-2-3), while América remains in 9th place with 13 points (4-1-4).
After the match, Herrera told reporters América had hit bottom and would have to get back to the basics if the club intended to defend its crown. The slumping Aguilas lost only 2 games all last season, going 12-9-2, including playoffs.
After winning the Apertura 2018 title on Dec. 16, América asked the league to postpone its season opener against Necaxa scheduled for Jan. 5. Their request was granted and the Aguilas are now in the middle of a 5-games-in-15-days gauntlet that concludes on March 16 with a Super Clásico against Chivas in Guadalajara.