Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuitles have placed themselves within the best eight teams in all of the America. With a 1-2 win the famous Pacaembu stadium over Palmeiras Xolos have qualify into the quarterfinals of the Copa Libertadores.
The Xoloitzcuitles began the first half sitting back and waiting cautiously to see what Palmeiras were going to do. Palmeiras enjoyed the majority of possession up to three-quarters of the field up until the Xolos defense and midfield players pressured every ball. In spite of the possession the home side was not able to creat much danger on Cirilo Saucedo’s goal.
Due to the intense pressure to recuperate the ball by both teams when they didn’t have it caused the game to be cut down with a lot of fouls. As the first half went on the fouls kept getting harder and referee’s cards started to leave his pocket.
The first dangerous opportunity of the game came in the tenth minute when Xolos captain Javier Gandolfi missed judged a rolling ball and let the Palmeiras forward run up and win the ball and fly past him. A low cross came in behind the run of the Palmeiras striker and the Xolos defense were able to clear the ball.
The closest the home side came to a goal came in the 24th minute after a doubtful foul by Pablo Aguilar that caused an even doubtful yellow card. Alito stepped up to take the free kick and hit the ball against the cross bar.
Two minutes after the close call in Saucedo’s goal, the Xoloitzcuitles got the ball the attacking half of the field; one of their only few times venturing out that far. Fidel Martinez and Joe Corona fought hard for the ball just outside the box, and Martinez laid the ball off to Duvier Riascos. The Colombian had a weak rolling shot that seemed to be a wasted opportunity. But all of a sudden the Palmeiras goalkeeper could not bring the ball in and let the ball roll into the goal to give Xolos the lead.
The scary part for the Tijuana side came in the 32nd minute when Richard Ruiz committed a foul and was shown a yellow card. Moments later Ruiz was shown a red card. But upon checking with his assistants the referee determined that Ruiz had not been booked before and allowed the Xolos player to stay in the game.
The half ended with the Palmeiras players and coaches screaming at the referee and riot police having to protect the official. The home side was upset because the referee ended the half before Palmeiras could take a corner kick; there had already been six minutes of added time and the referee sent the game into halftime.
The second half started just as rough as the first half ended, with lots fouls and yellow cards.
Tijuana doubled there lead in the 51st minute after a long clearness from the defense, a Palmeiras defender headed the ball into the middle of the field just outside the box where Fernando Arce came running into that bouncing ball and hit a wonder strike into the bottom corner of the net.
When it all seemed like Xolos would cruise into the quarterfinals; what every Mexican team fears in Copa Libertadores: a referee decision. Referees in South America have been notorious for harming Mexican sides with their calls.
In the 60th minute Javier Gandolfi and Pablo Aguilar jumped for an air ball and the ball ended hitting their arms. Venezuelan referee decided to award the penalty kick for the home side; penalty that was converted to put the score 1-2.
The home side tought they had leveled the game in the 67th minute when Kleber headed in a cross. But the goal was called off by the assistant referee for offside.
In the 70th minute captain Javier Gandolfi injured himself once again after a sliding tackle. From that point on manager Antonio Mohamed used his remaining two substitutions to send in two defenders and looked to hold off Palmeiras for the remaining minutes.
Xolos held the pressure and looked for a Riascos counter attack, like the 80th minute one her had after a good pass from Edgar Castillo. Riascos was one on one with the goalkeeper and could not find the goal.
The referee’s influenced once again came into play in the 83rd minute when he called a doubtful foul against Pablo Aguilar. He showed Aguilar his second yellow card of the match and sent him off early.
Xolos held on to their lead the remaining minutes of the game and book themselves in the quarterfinals where they’ll face Ronaldiho’s Atletico Mineiro.