America completes remarkable comeback to beat Cruz Azul in Clasico

MEXICO CITY -- Thirteen goals have been scored in the last two editions of Liga MX's Clasico Joven between Club America and Cruz Azul.

The rush of emotions experienced during those 90 minutes, when both teams are going at every ball as if it's the last one, are scenes that leave more than one neutral fan mesmerized. However, for America and Cruz Azul fans, those 90 minutes usually leave more than one fan perplexed and even heartbroken.

On Saturday night, Cruz Azul went into half-time with a well deserved 3-0 lead. In the second half, after midfielder Aldo Leao Ramirez received a red card, La Maquina fell apart and from the ashes emerged an America side that rampaged through the home team's defense to do the unthinkable and leave with a 4-3 comeback win.

After falling 3-0 to Chivas in the Clasico Nacional, America decided to lock itself in its training ground. Prior to the match against Cruz Azul, the team didn't hold a news conference as it did against Chivas, which included the presence of four players -- Renato Ibarra, Moises Munoz, Osmar Mares and Jose Daniel Guerrero.

The last news conference that took place at America's training grounds was one that happened three days after the Clasico Nacional nightmare, where sporting president, Ricardo Pelaez, head coach Ignacio "Nacho" Ambriz and captains Oribe Peralta, Rubens Sambueza and Munoz came out to to show that Ambriz's tenure was still strong and to promise that the best is yet to come for the club.

At that conference, Ambriz had a serious demeanor, confronting everyone who questioned his tenure. He was direct that afternoon with his feelings.

"If I don't win a single title this season, I'm leaving" he said. "And I say it in front of everyone, if I don't win a championship, I'm leaving!"

Against Cruz Azul, Ambriz had a grandiose opportunity to showcase -- through his players' actions -- that everyone at the club was pulling in the same direction. After all, his tenure in America has included two consecutive semifinal finishes, and one CONCACAF Champions League win over a talented Tigres team.

The start for America at Estadio Azul, though, couldn't have gone worse as Christian "Chaco" Gimenez opened the scoreline in the 17th minute with a sublime free kick. Four minutes later that lead doubled thanks to Gimenez' second goal of the evening, his 10th against Las Aguilas.

America lacked attacking spark, and once again -- as was the case against Matias Almeyda's Chivas -- Los Azulcremas' full-back Mares was easily beaten by the opponent's attackers.

The first 45 minutes for Cruz Azul were almost marking the end of Ambriz's time at America. Was the club about to celebrate its centennial by losing two consecutive Clasicos by large margins?

"We couldn't let them once again step on our pride," said Munoz after the match.

Even before Ramirez's send-off in the 51st minute, which Cruz Azul head coach Tomas Boy described as "dumb," America came out with more energy in the second half.

The team started connecting more than four passes in a row and the reaction Ambriz had hoped for was actually happening. Once Cruz Azul were down to 10 men, Ambriz made two offensive substitutions by plugging in winger Ibarra for the poor Mares and took off defensive midfielder Javier Guemez to send in winger Michael Arroyo.

When Ramirez left the pitch, Boy lost his talisman. Since arriving to Liga MX in 2008, Ramirez had played against America 18 times and had walked away with wins in 10 attempts. Boy has been the Colombian midfielder's coach in three different Liga MX clubs -- Morelia, Atlas and Cruz Azul.

Before the Clasico Joven, Ramirez described to Mexican newspaper Reforma his relationship with Boy.

"Tomas is an intense coach; everyday he'll ask you to be better," he said. "With me, he's always pushing me everyday to be better. With the Clasico around the corner, he asks us to enjoy every second of it."

Ramirez was Boy's voice on the pitch, and without him it became obvious that they became an easy prey for America, who was desperate to regain lost respect after the terrible home loss against Chivas.

Ambriz lost his voice after giving specific instructions to his players on the pitch, therefore preventing him from talking to the press in the postgame news conference. Assistant coach, Gerardo Esquivel, took Ambriz's place and noted that the players' relationship with Ambriz played a role in getting the 4-3 win: "The trust the players have on Ambriz is good; the relationship is also great."

Ibarra and Silvio Romero were responsible for America's epic comeback. Ibarra's crosses from the right flank led to Romero's two goals. Counting his brace on Saturday, Romero has put five goals past Cruz Azul in four matches.

"Nacho told us to play with heart, to not give up," Romero said. "If the 11 players on the pitch fulfilled these instructions, we were going to be able to get the draw, but look, we actually got more."

As the team left the stadium, America's operations president, Jose Romano, took out his phone from his pocket and pulled over Ambriz to take a selfie with him.

The selfie represents Ambriz's continuity as America's head coach, and his away record in Clasicos against Chivas, Pumas and Cruz Azul now reads four wins, two draws and zero losses.