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Fluffed penalties thwart heroic Houston effort in SuperLiga
by Ridge Mahoney, August 15th, 2007 7AM



Another enthralling contest with Pachuca meant another bitter defeat for the Houston Dynamo.

Pachuca prevailed on penalty kicks, 4-3, in a SuperLiga semifinal Tuesday after the teams toughed out a 2-2 tie in 120 minutes of regulation and overtime, most of which Houston played a man down following the ejection of defender Patrick Ianni in the 12th minute.

With the teams knotted on penalties, 3-3, Joseph Ngwenya's weak chip on Houston's fifth attempt bounced off the chest of Pachuca keeper Miguel Calero and Rafael Marquez Lugo nailed his shot high past Dynamo keeper Pat Onstad. Brian Ching had hit the post with Houston's fourth kick, but Onstad saved a low shot by Damian Alvarez to keep the teams tied.
Houston took an early 1-0 lead on a bizarre goal by Dwayne DeRosario, whose first-time shot from a low Brian Mullan cross appeared to bounce off his arm and deflect into the net. Ianni got his red card for pulling back Christian Gimenez just outside the penalty area, and Pachuca equalized in the 28th minute when Juan Carlos Cacho touched home a driven ball from Carlos Rodriguez.

Pachuca took the lead in the 61st minute. Substitute Andreas Chitiva latched onto a weak Ngwenya header and fired low inside Onstad's near post. Yet with seven minutes left, Chitiva offered Houston a lifeline with a clumsy midfield foul that earned him a caution. Richard Mulrooney's driven free kick found the head of defender Eddie Robinson, and he tied the game yet again.

Two minutes later, Chitiva dribbled along the edge of the penalty area and flew to the ground under a challenge. Referee Roberto Moreno adjudged him to have taken a dive and the second caution sent him off as well.

The teams played 10 against 10 through regulation and most of the first overtime before more incident ensued. Dynamo sub Corey Ashe came up swinging after a hard tackle by Jamie Correa as he was apparently helping Ashe to his feet. Moreno cautioned Correa for the tackle and dismissed Ashe for the elbow. So again Houston was a man down.

Calero saved a low shot from Houston's final sub, Chris Wondolowski, in the second overtime. The final whistle assured another dramatic finish between the teams; during the CONCACAF Champions Cup semifinals in March, Pachuca won an incredible second leg, 5-2, at home in overtime to earn a 5-4 aggregate win.

The first six shooters converted before Ching's miss and Calero's easy save sent Pachuca into the first SuperLiga final at the expense of the defending MLS champion.


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