Chivas through on last-chance strike

CARSON, Calif. - Omar Bravo scored a dramatic stoppage-time goal to give
Guadalajara a 1-1 draw with Necaxa, a result that sent the Copa Libertadores
semifinalists from a year ago back to within a game of the tournament.

Bravo scored in the second of three stoppage-time minutes, when all hope had
seemingly vanished. With Chivas mere minutes away from crashing out of
InterLiga 2006, Bravo's better-late-than-never tally sent the club to
Sunday's finals.

Necaxa's early goal - a 13th-minute tally from Ariel Lopez - appeared good
enough to send that club through to the finals. Necaxa even went down a man
in the 41st minute but that did not seem to matter until the game's dying
moments.

Chivas and Tigres - the two clubs who qualified to Libertadores from the
InterLiga a year ago - went through from Group B as Necaxa and Cruz Azul
were ousted.

Necaxa got on the board in the 13th minute when striker Ariel Lopez headed
home a cross from Alfredo Moreno. For Necaxa, it was a repeat of last season
as Lopez led the club in goals with eight in the Apertura 2005 campaign.

Chivas struggled to piece together possession inside Necaxa's third as
white-clad Necaxa defenders bottled up Chivas players aggressively inside
the box.

Necaxa went a man down after Rodolfo Espinoza was sent off in the 41st
minute. Chivas and Necaxa players nearly got into an altercation in the 41st
minute when Espinoza swung wildly and made contact with an official.
Espinoza was sent off with a straight red card.

But even playing 11-on-10 did not help Chivas much initially. Necaxa still
held off Chivas' valiant goal-scoring efforts. For the second half, Chivas
coach Hans Westerhof took out left midfielder Ramon Morales for Sergio
Santana, the longtime Mexican league striker, in search of the elusive goal.

Omar Bravo nearly equalized in the 55th minute but his close-range shot
rattled off the crossbar. Carlos Salcido repeated the feat five minutes
later when his 30-yard shot clanged off the crossbar as well.

Adolfo Bautista was denied on a point-blank shot as Necaxa keeper Ivan
Vazquez stopped him from six yards out in the 73rd minute. Chivas
appeared increasingly frustrated with their own lack of finishing. Despite
dominating possession in the second half, Chivas were either too far off the
mark in both their passing and shooting.

Vazquez came up huge in the 79th minute yet again. Edwin Borboa shook
himself loose inside the area and fired a shot from about 15 yards out. The
ball deflected off a Necaxa defender and was destined for the back of the
net. However, Vazquez got enough of the ball to push it over the crossbar
despite having been caught leaning the wrong way.

In the game's dying moments, Manuel Sol sent a booming cross form the right
side where it was flicked on to the far post toward Bravo. The national team
striker dived and knocked the ball past Vazquez, who had made every
conceivable save possible until that moment. The sellout crowd erupted as
Chivas players celebrated wildly on the sideline.

Luis Bueno is a contributor to InterLiga.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the league or its teams.

NECAXA - GUADALAJARA 1:1 (1:0)

01.10.2006: Carson, California; The Home Depot Center

Attendance: 26,253

Scoring summary:

NEC- Ariel Lopez (13')

GUA- Omar Bravo (93+)

NEC: 1- Ivan Vazquez (GK), 5- Victor Gutierrez, 6- Salvador Cabrera, 13- Luis Hernandez, 8- Fabian Pena, 14- Mario Perez, 17- Fabiano Pereira, 20- Jose Alberto Hernandez (19- Tressor Moreno, 84'), 21- Rodolfo Espinosa, 10- Alfredo Moreno (15- Miguel Perez, 46'), 11- Ariel Lopez (16- Carlos Gonzalez, 66')

DNP: 33- Aldo Diaz (GK), 18- Victor Ruiz, 24- Mario Padilla, 69- Luis A. Valdez

Head coach: Enrique Lopez

GUA: 1- Oswaldo Sanchez (GK), 3- Francisco J. Rodríguez, 4- Hector Reynoso (16- Edwin Borboa, 70'), 5- Carlos Salcido, 2- Diego Martinez, 7- Gonzalo Pineda, 11- Ramon Morales (21-Sergio Santana, 46'), 15- Manuel Sol, 9- Omar Bravo, 10- Alberto Medina, 100- Adolfo Bautista

DNP: 28- Alfredo Talavera (GK), 14- Alejandro Vela, 18- Christian Armas, 19- Jonny Magallon, 45- Jorge Barrera

Head coach: Hans Westerhoff

Cingular Man of the Match: Carlos Salcido (Guadalajara)

Booked:

NEC - Lopez (31'), Cabrera (41')

GUA - Rodríguez (10'), Sanchez (20'), Reynoso (52'), Pineda (87'), Sol (89'), Bravo (94+)

Sent off:

NEC - Espinosa (41')

Statistics

                     NEC   GUA
Goal Attempts         3     23
Saves                 9      0
Fouls                15     14
Corners               1      0
Offsides              2      1

R: Kevin Stott (USA)

A1: Chris Stickland (USA)

A2: George Gansner (USA)

FO: Baldomero Toledo (USA)


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