Cruz Azul were the much better side in the first half of their 2011 Apertura Liguilla Quarterfinal, first leg match against Monarcas Morelia, but have gone home needing a win to advance. La Machina went into halftime with a deserved 1-0 lead, but were completely outplayed and lost their cool in the second half, eventually losing by a final score of 2-1.
Javier Aquino was by far the best player on the pitch in the first half, as he dominated the game on the right wing for Cruz Azul. Without two of their best three central defenders, Morelia were forced to move left back Adrian Aldrete to the center of defense. This moved midfielder Jaime Lozano to left back and he struggled mightily, getting worked by Aquino on Cruz Azul's goal. Aquino's cross started the move, with Javier Orozco finishing the chance after Federico Vilar made a save.
Morelia came out swinging in the second half and were the better side for the entirety of the period, but Cruz Azul looked like they would be able to hold on. That was, until left back Fausto Pinto was caught by the fourth official hurling profane insults at Morelia manager Tomas Boy. The fourth official informed the referee and Pinto was sent off, taking la Machina down to 10 men.
The home side's front four then took over the game. Rafael Marquez equalized in the 77th minute, assisted by Miguel Sabah, then gave his team a lead with an 85th minute goal assisted by Lozano. Cruz Azul could have gone home with the tie more or less in the bag, but now will need to win at Estadio Azul to progress to the quarterfinals.
We'll have live coverage of every Liguilla match this weekend in our Mexican Primera, 2011 Apertura Liguilla Quarterfinals StoryStream. For more on the two teams and Mexican football in general, check out SB Nation's Mexican futbol blog FMF State Of Mind.