Cruz Azul’s backup goalkeeper Guillermo Allison entered the starting lineup due to José de Jesús Corona’s three-game suspension and ended up being the man of the match. Both goalkeepers – Allison and Toluca’s Alfredo Talavera – were repeatedly called into action and neither was beaten as the first leg finished 0-0 in the Estadio Azul.
The pouring rain in Mexico City affected the game, as the slick field and ball made the players less inclined to take risks. Even when the rain let up in the second half, the slippery conditions remained a factor.
Nevertheless, both teams attacked when they had the chance. Toluca nearly opened the scoring, but the deflected shot crashed against the crossbar and Allison was able to track it down at the endline. Then Marco Fabián appeared to have scored, fooling a large part of the stadium as well as the Univision Deportes broadcast team, but his curling effort had actually hit the outside of the net.
Both teams had a number of second-half chances as well. For Cruz Azul, Fabián sent a shot wide in the 55th minute and Joao Rojas and Christian Giménez forced Talavera into action with shots in the 76th and 90th minutes. Allison made his share of saves as well and the woodwork played a part again, with one shot clanging off the far post.
There was a touch of controversy in the 82nd minute, when Antonio Ríos’s shot hit Julio César Domínguez’s hand in the box, but referee Roberto García ruled the contact inadvertent and waved play on.
The 0-0 final score slightly favors Cruz Azul, since they kept Toluca from scoring an away goal. If the return leg ends in a draw with goals (1-1, 2-2, etc.), La Máquina will win due to the away goals tiebreaker. A 0-0 draw would send it to extra time, and of course, if either team wins the second leg they’ll win the final.
The second leg will be next week, on Wednesday, April 23rd in the Estadio Nemesio Díez (8:00 PM, Fox Sports 2 / Univision Deportes).
Cruz Azul: Guillermo Allison, Rogelio Chávez, Emanuel Loeschbor, Julio César Domínguez, Gerardo Flores, Gerardo Torrado, Alejandro Castro, Marco Fabián, Mauro Formica (Christian Giménez 66′), Joao Rojas (Pablo Barrera 81′), Mariano Pavone (Achille Emaná 66′).
Toluca: Alfredo Talavera, Francisco Gamboa, Aarón Galindo, Paulo da Silva, Miguel Ponce, Wilson Tiago, Juan Manuel Salgueiro (Raúl Nava 86′), Antonio Ríos, Carlos Esquivel (Óscar Rojas 92′), Isaác Brizuela (Édgar Benítez 84′), Pablo Velázquez.