MEXICO CITY ( Associated Press) — Argentine striker Nicolás Ibáñez converted a VAR-sanctioned penalty in the second half and Pachuca earned a valuable 1-1 away draw against América on Thursday, which moves them closer to the final of the tournament. Closing in Mexico.
Chilean Diego Valdés put the Águilas in front in the 53rd minute, but Ibáñez equalized in the 81st.
With the result, any tie in the return leg next Sunday at the Hidalgo de Pachuca stadium is enough for the Tuzos to get into the final.
Pachuca is served by any tie because he was the general leader, while the Eagles advanced in fourth place.
“Foolish it would be for us to trust our house. We are going to play another final with them on Sunday, which will surely be the same or as hard as today”, warned the Uruguayan coach of Pachuca, Guillermo Almada. “So if we want to make it to the final, we have to prove it on the pitch, not with words.”
In the other bracket, champion Atlas has a 3-0 lead over Tigres.
America, which extended its losing streak to 11 games, needs any win in the second leg to reach its first final since Apertura 2019.
“I have no doubt that on Sunday we are going to go out to win, as we have done from the first moment I took office, on whatever field,” said the Americanist coach Fernando Ortiz. “I just told them (to the players): Calm down, calm down.”
The Eagles are looking to shake off a dominance of the Tuzos, who in knockout stages have knocked out the team from the capital in four of five matches, including one in last year’s Clausura quarterfinals.
América had the first scoring opportunity just seven minutes into the match at the Azteca Stadium, when the Uruguayan Federico Viñas was left alone in front of the Argentine goalkeeper Óscar Ustari, who deflected the ball with his left leg to avoid the goal.
The Eagles did not create serious danger again until the 40th minute, when Chilean Valdés received a cross from the left inside the area, but sent his shot over the goal in a clear miss.
When the first half expired, in a corner kick play, Luis Chávez hit a header that goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa rejected with problems.
The locals went ahead when Viñas stole a ball at the start and took a shot that Ustari rejected, but the ball fell to Valdés, who converted with a shot over the goalkeeper.
Pachuca reacted and knocked on goal at 61 with a shot from Argentine Nicolás Ibáñez that went slightly wide.
The visitors leveled when Jorge Sánchez’s knee barely touched a foot of Colombian Avilés Hurtado, who collapsed inside the area while chasing a forward ball. The referee Jorge Antonio Pérez did not call a foul in the first instance, but he did so after reviewing the video.
“From the penalty, when he is running, they touch his support foot, and he makes his leg collide with the other,” Almada valued. “It was clear because I saw the images now, but in the game it seemed that way to me and it was clear to me: It was a penalty.”
Ibáñez converted with a shot to the right side of Ochoa, who beat the opposite side.
Pachuca was able to take the victory in discounts, with a header from Ibáñez that went over the goal.
The “Tano” Ortiz who took the reins of America in the middle of the contest after the dismissal of his Argentine compatriot Santiago Solari and achieved an amazing rebound of the team. he considered that his team could have gotten better returns at home, with missed opportunities in the first half.
The equality, after a penalty, left their players with a feeling of defeat. The strategist said that he had postponed the press conference for five minutes to raise the spirits of his players.
“Football sometimes takes away what you deserve but I have no doubt, I have no doubt… Do you see me worried about something? No, this is football”, he sentenced.