The first weekend of action in Clausura 2012 saw four of the nine matches end in a draw. Thus, the five teams who were able to capture three points in their opening match were off to a great head start. Two of those teams were perennial powerhouses coming off disappointing seasons: Toluca and America. In the case of America, it was a complete abomination of a season.
For the final match of week 2, Toluca and America squared off at Azteca. Unlike last week, none of the other eight matches of this weekend ended in a draw. Three points would set a pronounced tone and pace for either team in this match; positive momentum being truly needed for both clubs.
Rain came down steadily throughout the match; the first half was accordingly somber. Most of the action, if I could call it that, played out between the boxes. Toluca sat back and played a defensive game with the occasional long ball and counterattack. This was largely ineffectual. America held a great deal of possession, however, they merely seemed to hold the ball until they were eventually awarded a free kick. This strategy actually seemed to make sense for when they did have a crack in the Toluca defense they were unable to capitalize. America's best opportunity actually came in the 6th minute as Toluca's offside trap failed and Jesus Molina found himself one-on-one with the keeper. A pitiful shot at the feet of Talavera, Toluca's goalkeeper, was all that Molina could muster. Ugly.
Toluca's defense did not relent much more in the second half despite America increasing their pressure moving forward. Toluca took the lead in the 56th minute on a seemingly innocuous opportunity. Ivan Alonso netted yet another goal for his side, and this one was a true goalazo. Alonso had no hope of scoring in a bad position and Juan Carlos Valenzuela draped all over him. Alonso flopped his feet out toward the cross and caught the ball perfectly to send it into the side netting. I don't know of many that could have scored that goal.
With Toluca now in line for the three points, America did little more to put themselves in position to get back into the match. However, they didn't need to, as the hard work was done for them. In the 82nd minute, an atrocious call was made by the head official, giving America a penalty. Toluca's defensemen, Novaretti, was penalized for a handball in the box. The ball struck him between the shoulder and his chest. Novaretti also had his arms tucked behind his back even though the lob was only taken from three yards away from him. The official, who came from the blind side of the play, did not hesitate in making in the call and did not waver as the entire Toluca squad nearly beat him senseless. Fortunately, for this official, he seems to be lacking in some senses already. Vincente Vuoso executed a perfect penalty kick. This would end up being the final goal as the match ended drawn at 1-1.
Toluca were very unfortunate to have not come out on top in this match. They probably should have pressed more and worked harder to get the second goal. America were not threatening in the back and, as this game along with many others proves, you never know when the official is going to impose himself.