After one-fourth of the Apertura 2009 final was complete, it looked like Cruz Azul were going to exorcise their decade-plus-long demons and finally win a league title.
Instead, the team showed why they haven't won a championship since 1997. Monterrey turned a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 win and Cruz Azul now heads home needing at least a victory to have a shot at the title.
While the loss was painful, it has lingered.
"I think everyone was hurting," Cesar Villaluz told reporters on Saturday. "After having a two-goal lead now to find ourselves a goal down. But that's in the past and we have to lift our heads up and realize that there are 90 minutes left."
Cruz Azul players are not suffering through any negative side effects because of Thursday's loss, no matter how painful it was, Villaluz said.
"The mood is good, positive," Villaluz said. "We all wanted to be here and we know what it means to be in a final. We know we can turn around the scorline but have to demonstrate that on the field."
The difference in the first leg was possession, Villaluz said. When Cruz Azul held the ball, things went in their favor. But when Monterrey held the ball, la Maquina's defense was not up for the challenge.
And while the defense surrendered three second-half goals, Villaluz said a strong attack would help offset any defensive shortcomings.
"We need to have possession because in the second half we gave it away and it was very different from the first half when we were aggressive, had scoring chances and scored goals," he said. "Defensively we have to be solid but we have to think more on the attack."
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