CHRISTOPHER MCCOLLUM - Thursday, February 23, 2012
Pachuca's undefeated run and quest for the undisputed top spot came to an end against America, while Tijuana capitalized on their opportunity to move up in the standings.
Pachuca 0 - 1 America
Jose Torres played another 90 minute game for Pachuca and collected another yellow card, but the team came up short in its attempt to take over at the top of the standings.
Cristian Benitez scored the only goal of the game in the 56th minute, as he dribbled from about 50 yards out, to just a few paces outside of the 18, more or less without obstruction, before firing a shot low and to the right, beating goalkeeper Rodolfo Cota.
Jose Torres would receive his yellow card for a 68th minute foul on Benitez.
The loss ended Pachuca's unbeaten record, and denied them a key opportunity to move into first place, after favorable results from their rivals across the league.
Pachuca will next host Tigres on February 25 in a key match between the two heavy weights.
Tijuana 2 - 0 Queretaro
Edgar Castillo went 90 minutes and Joe Corona went 84 for the victorious Xolos, who were finally able to seize an opportunity to gain ground in the standings.
The first half was scoreless, but shortly after the break Tijuana broke the game open with Jose Sand.
In the 50th minute, Tijuana players surrounded the ball for a free kick just outside the box and to the right of goal. Looking like they were going to shoot, they instead played a sneaky ball on the ground and into the center of the box into the path of Fernando Arce, whose swinging effort barely made contact with the ball, bumping it ahead only a few feet.
Jose Sand was able to get onto it and blast it into the net, however, to complete the play. While Arce kicked out at the ground in frustration for missing the shot, the rest of the Tijuana team gathered at the sideline to celebrate.
Only three and a half minutes later, Duvier Riascos finished a blistering counter attack to extend the lead.
Queretaro were building up an attack in the offensive third, but the ball fell to the feet of goalkeeper Cirilo Saucedo who blasted it upfield. The ball took a glancing header and fell to the feet of Sand, who played a tricky back heel into the path of Riascos. The Colombian put on a burst of speed to get past the defense, and finished the ball on the ground.
The win moved Tijuana to within two points of the lead. Their next game will be hosting Toluca on Saturday.
Puebla 1 - 2 Morelia
DaMarcus Beasley started and played 74 minutes for Puebla in their loss to Morelia. Puebla entered the game with an opportunity to climb into the top half of the standings, but fell short.
After a scoreless first half, the second half started with a bang as Beasley almost collected two assists on one play.
Controlling the ball deep in the left side of the box, he played the ball across the middle and found Lucas Oliveira, who blasted a shot from the penalty spot that Federico Vilar made a good save on.
The saved shot deflected back out wide to Beasley, who played it back into the middle and found Rodrigo Dorantes wide open at the top of the goalbox. Dorantes' shot went over the top of the bar, however, bailing Morelia's defense out.
About two minutes after that series, Dorantes got an opportunity to make amends, and he took it. A ball from the midfield to the top of the box found Dorantes with a couple steps of space. He kept the cushion by moving the ball to the left, then firing a shot low to the far post, beating Vilar.
Puebla were not able to keep the lead though, as in the 72nd minute Miguel Sabah took a pass from Aldo Ramirez, then made a nice touch to split the defense and get into the box, then shot to the near post past Alexandro Olivares.
Five minutes before time, Luis Sandoval put Morelia on top, striking a half volley from the top of the box after the ball bounced around from a free kick.
Puebla wouldn't be able to bring it back, and they took their third loss of the season. They will next visit Monterrey on Saturday.
Herculez Gomez played the final 11 minutes in Santos Laguna's 1-1 tie with Monterrey.
Jonathan Bornstein did not play for Tigres in their 0-0 tie with Atlas.
Marco Vidal did not dress for Club Leon in their 3-0 win over Pumas Morelos.
Greg Garza did not dress for Tijuana in their 2-0 victory of Queretaro.