Cruz Azul entered a lion’s den Wednesday, but escaped Leon, Guanajuato with a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the Liga MX quarterfinal.
La Fiera was unable reap the benefits of its tremendous home support and fell short against La Maquina in the Nou Camp.
The jeers of the crowd were silenced when Mariano Pavone connected with a cleverly placed ball into the box from Rogelio Chavez, Pavone’s header was slotted into the right corner of the net and out of Leon Goal keeper William Yarbrough’s reach.
With such a solid start to the game one would have expected the super lider to run a riot on La Fiera, but that wasn’t the case. La Maquina became too complacent with the 1-0 advantage and allowed Leon to dictate the rest of the game.
At the 21st minute La Maquina was finally punished for easing up on attack. Leon constructed a clever combination of passes, that ended with a flick from Mauro Boselli to Jose “Chema” Cardenas who then rifled a shot past a diving Jose De Jesus Corona.
After that goal it was Corona to Cruz Azul’s rescue for the rest of the match.
Leon dominated possesion and on numerous occasions forced Corona to make tremendous saves.
On one occasion, Edwin Hernandez came galloping into the box and shot, but was blocked by a defender, Hernandez then opted to set up teamate Carlos El Gullit Pena who stuck the ball with 3 toes forcing Corona into a diving save.
In the second half Colombian substitute Eisner Loboa struck with his right-foot and force Corona into another spectacular save to maintain the 1-1 draw.
Cruz Azul had its chances as well, as Marco Fabian attempted to spike a high flying center into the box that was defelected away by Yarbrough.
In the closing minutes of the game Leon had the opportunity of a lifetime to take the lead when Boselli was fed a low cross into the box, but once again Corona quickly captured the low strike and denied La Fiera another chance to take the lead.
Now, the return leg will take place in the Estadio Azul were La Maquina will hope to end Leons championship aspirations to continue its own.