I think the best way to describe this game is 'mental'. Jaguares Chiapas advance to the Copa Libertadores quarterfinals on away goals after a 3-3 draw against Atletico Junior, a sentence that doesn't really describe the sheer lunacy of the match.
The first half was pretty normal, as things go. The two sides had battled it out to a 1-1 draw in Mexico, giving Junior a slight advantage thanks to their away goal, and they extended that by exploiting a terrible error from Jorge Villalpando, who completely missed a long punt forward, ultimately allowing Juan Valencia to roll into an empty net. Jaguares were level within minutes, however, as Jackson Martinez guided a neat header past Sebastian Viera to make it 2-2 on aggregate.
And then the second half began. Within five minutes, the hosts had three penalty appeals, all turned down by Heber Lopes except the last, earned when Oscar Razo inexplicably hacked down Jossymar Gomez with the midfielder going nowhere. Luiz Paez stepped up to hammer home past a helpless Villalpando. No matter for Jaguares, who went level again after Martinez (again!) mopped up in the penalty area, making it 2-2 and giving the visitors the lead on away goals.
The drama wasn't nearly over, though. In the 72nd minute, Junior floated a harmless-looking cross into the Jaguares box that may well have been going out of play only for Villalpando to attempt to make a catch at the far post and drop it more or less on the goalline, where striker Carlos Bacca looked at the ball with bemusement for a few seconds before opting to stick it in the back of the net. Turning a goal kick into a goal for the opposition is frowned upon by most coaches, and with two goals conceded that were directly Villalpando's fault, Jose Guadalupe Cruz employed a move rarely seen in football.
He pulled his goalkeeper.
Villalpando was not amused by the substitution, and made that more than abundantly clear. While Fabian Villasenor was readying himself to replace the woefully ineffective 26-year-old, Villalpando was clearly agitated, and when he came off he managed to turn a heated dicussion with the coaching staff into a full out brawl. With his own coaches.
It that wasn't crazy enough, we had a pitch invasion. An Atletico Juniors fan sprinted into the middle of the pitch only to be kicked to the ground by Jagueres substitute Ricardo Esqueda. Cue absolute pandemonium and an outright fistfight in the middle of the pitch. When the dust had settled, Lopes started issuing cards, sending off both Jackson Martinez and Junior defender Cesar Fawcett as well as cautioning Jaguares defender Ismael Fuentes. To say the scenes at the Estadio Metropolitano were a out of hand would be understating things more than a little.
Still, the hosts had a 3-2 lead on the night, which would have led to them advancing on aggregate, and the game stayed that way for another ten minutes. But the drama wasn't done, and Jaguares, deprived of the man who had scored all three of their goals in the tie so far, struck with a bolt from the blue off the right leg of Edgar Andrande from fully 25 yards out. The shot screamed past Viera and nestled into the bottom corner, leaving the visitors suddenly poised to advance, with less than five minutes to play.
The game finished in frenetic fashion, with each side going on the attack (the reasons for Jaguares trying to score more goals are currently unclear), but neither side could find a way through and Lopes blew up promptly after two minutes of injury time. The fact that the players didn't brawl again after the final whistle can probably be considered a minor miracle.
That was a game for the ages, and Jaguares definitely deserved to go through. One has to wonder if Villalpando will ever play for the side again, and with Martinez out for the first leg (at least) of their quarterfinal against Paraguyan outfit Cerro Porteno is going to be fairly challenging. But that's a problem for another day - in the meantime Cruz and company will be celebrating a victory that was nothing short of epic.