Monday Musings: Clasico drama tops the weekend

Sebastián Córdova (upraised arms) exults after scoring América's first goal. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)
Sebastián Córdova (upraised arms) exults after scoring América's first goal. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images) /

Midweek Matchday schedule provided us with plenty of drama thanks to a double-dose of Clasico fever.

Both the Clasico Regio and the Super Clasico lived up to their reputations as far as drama goes, but flying in under the headlines is a Pachuca team that is now on a three-game win streak.

In Monterrey, the host Rayados picked up just a single point from the two games last week, tumbling all the way down to 12th place and putting their coach’s job at risk. Their Clasico rival – the Tigres – won for the first time in six weeks, climbing into playoff position again.

Neither northern power had looked too good entering into the Clasico Regiomontano and Monterrey, in particular, was struggling. Their coach, Diego Alonso, had apparently been given an ultimatum (win the Clasico or pack up and go), but as of Monday morning, there was not change in his status. The Uruguayan coach was defiant in a post-game press conference, declaring he would not resign. Monterrey fans, however, have seen enough and want him gone.

Tigres win Clasico
Tigres midfielder Lucas Zelarrayan lets Monterrey fans know he can’t hear them after he scored in minute 69 to help his club win the Clasico Regio. (Photo by JULIO CESAR AGUILAR/AFP/Getty Images) /

The Tigres claimed bragging rights by winning the Clasico after Lucas Zelarayán took advantage of an error by Rayados goalie Marcelo Barovero. The Argentine keeper bundled a rebound right into the path of Zelarayán who simply slotted home from right in front in minute 69. André-Pierre Gignac then doubled the lead 20 minutes later when he beat his marker to the front post on a corner kick and bounced a header into the net.

In Mexico City, Chivas defender Antonio Briseño played the Super Clasico villain with a rash challenge that left a hole in Giovani dos Santos’ leg, while Sebastián Córdova played the hero, scoring his team’s first two goals as América routed visiting Guadalajara 4-1.

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Eighteen minutes into the Clásico de Clásicos, América executed a textbook fast break off a Chivas free kick with Roger Martínez supplying the perfect pass to Córdova. The centering pass caught Briseño leaning the wrong way and he flailed at the ball as it went right behind him, Córdova trapped neatly, moved in on goalie José Antonio Rodríguez and slipped the ball underneath him for an early 1-0 lead.

Less than 20 minutes later, Briseño was again chasing the play and he made a rash studs-up challenge and his cleats caught dos Santos in the thigh, just above the right knee, leaving a gruesome-looking hole in his leg. Dos Santos was carted off the field and taken to the hospital immediately while Briseño was shown a red card.

Just before the half, the Aguilas clinched another Clasico win when Córdova was the recipient of a nice pass from Paul Aguilar that sent him behind the defense and his low blast from a sharp angle beat Rodríguez.

America wins Clasico
Four times the Aguilas celebrated against the Chivas. Here América players gather after Emanuel Aguilera scored from the penalty spot. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images) /

Guadalajara briefly revived the Clasico drama with an early second-half goal by Alan Pulido and the Chivas hustled and pressured the Aguilas searching for the tying goal, but América kept their poise and controlled the tempo. In minute 73, Aguilas winger Andrés Ibarguen got into the box where his legs were taken out by a sliding Fernando Beltrán and ref Fernando Guerrero pointed to the spot. The Chivas were livid even after Guerrero confirmed his call by Video Assistant Replay and when Alan Cervantes continued to mouth off, he was sent off. When Emanuel Aguilera converted the penalty, the Clasico was over. Henry Martín added another goal for the Aguilas for good measure.

In Pachuca, the Tuzos compounded Cruz Azul’s misery with an efficient 2-0 win on Saturday that lifted Martín Palermo’s late-blooming club into fifth place. Víctor Guzmán and Franco Jara nabbed the goals – Jara now has 7 on the season after he scored twice against the Chivas during the midweek Matchday 11. Guzmán also scored against the Chivas.

Elsewhere, León continued its hot-and-cold season with a bumbling performance against persistent Puebla, losing 2-1 on the heels of a disappointing 1-1 tie against Atlas. The dropped points cost the Esmeraldas to move into second place and put Ignacio Ambriz’s boys in better position to challenge for the top playoff seed.

The loss to the Camoteros ended León’s 7-game unbeaten streak that had hinted at a return to last season’s impressive form.