MEXICO CITY -- Cecilio Dominguez likes to defy logic, and this evident desire to do the unthinkable every time he can has Club America's fans mesmerized.
Dominguez knows what Americanistas want, and he's going to try to give it to them.
Saturday's Clasico Capitalino between America and Pumas became a tale of two Panenkas in which America's players had the audacity to try it twice even though in the 45th minute, Silvio Romero saw his effort denied by goalkeeper Alfredo Saldivar. When the game was finely poised at 1-1 in the 79th minute, Dominguez took the ball away from Darwin Quintero and placed it on the penalty spot. It was the ball, Dominguez, Saldivar and the goal; almost 46,000 fans kept silent.
Dominguez defied logic and tried a Panenka but this time, the ball landed sweetly in the net. America finished the night with a 2-1 win and a lot of kids left the stadium wanting to get Dominguez's no. 10 jersey.
"No, I hope they don't do it again. [My levels of anxiety] are barely coming down," said America coach Miguel Herrera, who tried to demonstrate how exasperated he was at watched two of his players try Panenkas in a Clasico. "There are moments when you can do those sort of things [Panenkas], and there are moments where you just can't, but I can't be on the field telling them what to decide.
"They did them; it's the past. I wasn't happy with those situations. But I'm happy for what happened after [Dominguez's Panenka], when all the team went to celebrate with the teammate [Romero] that had the error in the first half, and that's what I like.
"I like to see my team united, strong and solid when a player is going through adversity."
As Dominguez sprinted to one of Azteca's corners to celebrate with a knee slide in front of America fans, who were going out of their mind, many of the players sprinted towards the bench and wanted to enjoy America's second goal with Romero instead. They literally pulled him off the bench to stand up and celebrate.
Herrera decided to take off Romero in the 66th minute in place of Ecuador international Renato Ibarra and as Romero walked to the bench, he was intensely booed by America fans for his penalty miss. Dominguez was about to finish his celebration but Herrera ordered him to come to the bench and enjoy the moment with Romero instead. They embraced, showcasing the strong union that currently defines Las Aguilas.
"The team doesn't plan these events. They just happen," said goalkeeper Agustin Marchesin, who made a brilliant save in the 12th minute to deny Nicolas Castillo's superb free-kick. "This team is a group of people that's always thinking about moving forward, and it's always ready to help out someone who commits an error.
"Well, tonight, unfortunately or fortunately, to put it in some type of context, he [Romero] was the player who wanted to take the penalty; he has the personality to do it and the quality. Above all, he has our total support. He's an important player for our team; I've known him since his days in Lanus, and he likes do it [Panenkas], so it's all good.
"This is football: everyone can commit a mistake. It could have been me, 'Cepillo' [Peralta] or Cecilio during his penalty."
It was important for America to gets its first home win of the season and to get it against an opponent like Pumas will boost Herrera & Co.'s confidence. For the second weekend in a row, Darwin Quintero's attacking contributions were reflected on the final score, this time with a superb assist for Oribe Peralta's goal that opened the scoring.
Although Pumas manager, Francisco Palencia, noted after the match that he felt the game could have gone either way, Saturday's defeat was a continuation of poor football being displayed by Los Universitarios. The best part of Pumas' performance at Estadio Azteca didn't come from the team on the field; it came from the thousands of fans who came to the stadium and never stopped singing even when the team was down 2-1.
Herrera believes that the team still has to improve certain elements of its game, especially in maintaining more stability in the back. He also pointed out that his side's possession of the ball could have been better but it's worth highlighting that on Saturday, Guido Rodriguez couldn't participate due to suspension and his contributions are mainly reflected on the possession side of the game.
"In the game against Pachuca, I think our possession of the ball was better in about 32 minutes, where we almost reached perfection," said Herrera. "We did great things but in tonight's game, we also had good things. What I liked today is that we imposed our attitude and that's commendable."
Without a doubt, Dominguez's attitude shone through with his match-winning Panenka. In that precise moment, he didn't care about the risks; he only cared about humiliating the opponent, a detail he shares with every no. 10 that has represented America. It's clear that Dominguez was born to be America's No. 10.