Hector Gimenez' last minute brace knocked Chivas and America from the Liguilla
Ciudad Juarez hasn’t had much to celebrate these days. We can talk about the drug wars, the unsolved murders of hundreds of women and girls, the unpaved streets, they lack of electricity in large parts of the city, but this is a footie page. Let’s just say it’s a tough place to live.
Five years from now, the attendance of today’s game vs. Chivas will have swelled to well over 500,000. Because everybody who is anybody in the Chihuahua border town will swear they were there, an eye witness to the Miracle at the Estadio Olimpico Benito Juarez. For it was the day Indios knocked out Chivas and America from the 2009 Clausura’s Liguilla.
Going in to the last week of the season, all three teams needed a myriad of scenarios to play just right for them to have a chance. And that’s exactly what happened. The teams that needed to lose lost. The teams that couldn’t win didn’t. It all came down to the last game: Chivas @ Indios. A chivas win and they were in. A tie meant America would get the last spot. Indios had to win by at least two goals, or America again would be through.
Just before halftime an awful mistake from an Indios defender left Alberto Medina with a goal opportunity so easy, even he could not screw it up. 0-1 Chivas at the half.
Coach Hector Hugo Eugui made some substitutions that proved to be golden. Frias came on first and got the equalizer. And Hector Gimenez was able to get the go ahead gol in the 86th on a brilliant counter that was started by kepper Humberto Hernandez’ 50 meter outlet throw. At 2-1, Chivas were out, and America in. Indios needed one more goal to knock ‘em both out. Gimenez got it 5 minutes later. The 3-1 result sends indios to their first liguilla. Meanwhile, Chivas and America get an uncustomary early start to their golf season for the second tournament in a row.
It was a fitting end to a week that was a microcosm of the Clausura. Pachuca and Toluca showed that they are clearly the teams to beat by scoring 5 goals a piece. Pumas was solid but not spectacular to claim the third spot. Puebla and Indios relied on guts and guile, not pedigree or cash to not only stay in the first division, but crash the post-season party. Necaxa and Tigres, two proud, but misguided clubs, went for the big names instead of the team players to pull them from the abyss. In the end, though, it was no surprise that Necaxa was dropped. They played the second season with a new coach and almost a dozen new players. That’s tough sledding in a short season. They never go out of the hole they dug for themselves at the first of the season.
And what of Chivas and America? What do they have to show for all the coaching changes by the former, and roster purges by the latter? You can change the coach every week, but it didn’t change the fact that Chivas only scored 6 goals in the 9 games that followed their 5-0 Pachuca romp. America finally got it going after their coaching change, they lost only 3 of the last 8, but it proved to be too little too late.
And for fans in Juarez, at least for today anyway, the two flagships of Mexican futbol were torpedoed by their beloved Indios. And a few years from now, they’ll all say “I was there.”