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América defends Liga MX honor and defeats LAFC after dramatic penalty kicks

The Leagues Cup kicked off on an impressive stage in Los Angeles, California. The SoFi Stadium had more than 70 thousand fans who witnessed two classics between MLS and Liga MX teams. In the stellar game, America beat LAFC 6-5 from the penalty shootout, after not scoring a goal in the 90 minutes of regular time.

A first half dominated by LAFC

The first few minutes of the game were dominated by both teams, and some players even complained about the state of the field, since it is artificial grass and is not usually used for soccer. It should be noted that these were the first soccer matches at SoFi Stadium.

A few minutes into the game, the Californian team looked better than the Mexicans, and Latif Blessing found himself with a ball outside the six-yard box, but his half-volley was defective and the ball landed with little power in the hands of the Azulcrema goalkeeper, Óscar Jiménez.

The most dangerous goal in the first half came from LAFC, who, after a full-speed run down the right flank, Sebastián Méndez sent a cross for Chicho Arango, but Jiménez saved and prevented the U.S. team's first goal.

When the 40th minute arrived, Steve Cherundolo, DT of LAFC, sent Gareth Bale and Carlos Vela to warm up, which provoked a tremendous cheer from those present in the stadium, and both raised their hands to greet the fans.

Controversial decision that the VAR eliminates a sending-off

Moments later, Mamadou Fall committed a very reckless foul on Federico Viñas, who went down hard, and the referee showed the red card to the LAFC player, but everything ended up in the VAR, and the final decision was a preventive card.

Carlos Vela came on at halftime

For the second 45 minutes, LAFC sent Carlos Vela onto the field to complement Chicho Arango in the offense, and it immediately had an effect, as in the first play the two combined, but the Colombian was not accurate in his shot.

In the next play, América responded, Román Martínez received a filtered pass, but his shot did not cross far enough, and goalkeeper John McCarthy sent the ball to the corner.

Moments later, the Coapa side came very close to scoring. Miguel Layún took a man off his line and sent a cross into the box that Román Martínez missed, but Emilio Lara shot a powerful cross, but Eddie Segura saved the goal from the line.

Cherundolo gave 30 minutes to Gareth Bale

The LAFC coach made several changes, but the most notable was the introduction of Gareth Bale, who received a standing ovation from the entire stadium, including the Americanistas, who were delighted to see the Welshman on the field.

After the changes made by the Californian team, Tano Ortiz also made his changes, but the fourth official got confused and thought that América had 12 men on the field, and a few minutes were lost and the fans began to boo the judges.

With the multiple changes made, the match fell into a rut and the dangerous plays and the dynamism with which it was taking place came to an end, so everything indicated that there would be penalties, since in the event of a tie, the winner would be decided from the 11 penalty kicks.

Exciting penalty kicks

América started with the penalty shootout. Bruno Valdez scored the first one, it was the turn of Diego Palacios of LAFC, but Jiménez saved it.

Henry Martín scored to give the Mexicans a 2-0 lead. Carlos Vela followed for the Americans and took his penalty kick. But Alejandro Zendejas restored parity when he missed his spot kick. Cal Jennings tied things up at 2-2. Karel Campos took it well and América had the lead again, but Ilie Sánchez tied it up again.

Cabecita Rodríguez took the fifth penalty and left everything in the hands of Gareth Bale, who tied the score at 4-4 to take the match to sudden death.

The penalty kicks continued, and after successive successes by Sebastián Cáceres, Franco Escobar and Emilio Lara, the stage was set for José Cifuentes to shoot over Oscar Jiménez's goal to give América the victory.

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