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Aguilera: I’ll handle penalty kicks for America in semis match with Pumas

America manager Miguel Herrera gives a thumbs up to fans during the 2018 Apertura tournament quarterfinals match played on Dec. 2, 2018, at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, Mexico. EPA-EFE FILE/Jose Mendez

America manager Miguel Herrera gives a thumbs up to fans during the 2018 Apertura tournament quarterfinals match played on Dec. 2, 2018, at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, Mexico. EPA-EFE FILE/Jose Mendez

EFE

Argentine defender Emanuel Aguilera said he would handle penalty kicks for America in the second leg of its 2018 Apertura tournament semifinals series with the Pumas UNAM.

"(Manager) Miguel Herrera told me that I’m up in the next one. Unfortunately, Roger Martinez failed (on Thursday against the Pumas), like any other teammate could have come up short. If the opportunity arises, I’ll be the one handling the penalties,” the 29-year-old center-back told reporters on Saturday.

Herrera’s squad has struggled with penalty kicks, missing on 16 of 42 penalties since July 2017.

Herrera has used Cecilio Dominguez, Jeremy Menez, Oribe Peralta, Matheus Uribe and Roger Martinez at various times, but they all had problems with penalties.

Aguilera, who played for Superliga Argentina clubs Independiente and Godoy Cruz, said scoring on penalty kicks was not easy.

“I don’t have an explanation for what is happening to us, a penalty is like playing the lottery in soccer, there are lots of psychological, mental, even environmental factors at play. What I think is that you have to concentrate and not think about the misses from before,” Aguilera said.

America and the Pumas played to a 1-1 tie on Thursday in the first leg of their semifinals series.

The clubs will take the field on Sunday to decide who will advance to the final against Cruz Azul.

On Saturday, Cruz Azul, which has not won a Liga MX title since 1997, edged Monterrey 1-0, advancing to the 2018 Apertura tournament final.

Argentine Milton Caraglio scored the lone goal of the match in the 55th minute, giving Portuguese manager Pedro Caixinha’s squad the win and a spot in the final.

Cruz Azul had to win after falling to Monterrey 1-0 in the first leg of the series.

Even though the clubs were tied 1-1 on aggregate and 0-0 in away goals, Cruz Azul advanced to the final with the victory because of its seeding.

Under Liga MX rules for the semifinals, Cruz Azul, the No. 1 seed, advanced because it was seeded higher than Monterrey, the No. 5 seed.


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