The Pumas came up short in their Copa MX semifinal as the upstart Bravos move on to face América in the Final.
The second division Bravos de Juárez scuttled hopes for a Clásico Capitalino in the Copa MX Final, defeating UNAM 2-0 after the Pumas went down to 10 men early in the second half.
Teenager Omar Panuco tallied the opener for the host Bravos in minute 64 and defender Luis López scored the clincher in minute 84 and Juárez deservedly advanced to the Final where they will host América on April 10.
After a scoreless first half in which both teams attacked with discipline, the Bravos came out for the second half with determination.
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Less than a minute in, Bravos goalie Iván Vázquez punted long over the defense, but Pumas defender Rodrigo González had position to control the ball. Instead, he tried to hold off Juárez striker Leandro Carrijo. The burly striker got around González and the young defender yanked Carrijo’s jersey just before he got to the box, earning a yellow card. Unfortunately, that was his second yellow and he was sent to the showers. Vázquez, the goalie, just barely missed the ensuing free kick, sending the ball just past the right post.
The Bravos gradually snatched control of the game, showing patience with the ball and forcing the Pumas to chase. Shortly after the hour mark, Pumas goalie Alfredo Saldívar took a goal kick that the Bravos controlled. Mauro Fernández collected the ball, then thumped it long down the right flank, chased it down and sent a low, bouncing cross to Panuco who was all alone at the back post. The 17-year-old striker made no mistake, drilling the ball into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
UNAM’s frustration was latent and Pumas midfielder David Carbrera was forgiven a red card for a stamp on Juárez’s Edy Brambila. UNAM coach Bruno Marioni sent on additional attackers in hopes of conjuring up the tying goal, but Juárez maintained tactical discipline, shutting down UNAM possessions and moving into their offensive third.
In minute 83, Saldívar made a fabulous save off a Fernández shot from 12 feet, conceding a corner kick. Juárez took the corner kick and the Pumas cleared, but only a few meters outside the box. Pumas midfielder Víctor Malcorra had been covering the near post and he was unable to clear the zone before Juárez sent it back in to Carrijo who was all alone inside the box, but his point blank shot was saved by Saldívar and the rebound trickled wide right of goal. Defender López was the first to react and he slammed home the Bravos’ second goal from a sharp angle, sending the home crowd into delirium.
Awaiting the Bravos in the final is América, a 4-0 winner over Tijuana in Tuesday’s other semifinal. Juárez finished the Copa MX group stage as the No. 2 seed, while América was the No. 4 seed, earning the Bravos the right to host the Final next week. Juárez eliminated the Aguilas in last season’s Copa MX, knocking them out in the Round of 16 after a penalty kick shootout.
The last time an Ascenso MX team was in the Copa MX Final was five years ago when the Alebrijes of Oaxaca lost to the Tigres. The last time an Ascenso MX team won the Copa MX was in the Apertura 2012 season when the Dorados of Sinaloa defeated Correcaminos UAT in an all Ascenso MX final.