EDGAR ZUNIGA - Monday, February 4, 2013
It was a weekend that featured a fierce heavyweight Clash of Gringos, frustrated Gringos and pleasantly surprised Gringos.
Tigres 2 - 2 Club Tijuana
Two heavyweights traded knockout blows and settled for draw, as Tigres and Club Tijuana remain unbeaten atop the Liga MX table.
Club Tijuana's Joe Corona and Edgar Castillo lined up against José Francisco Torres and Tigres in a Clash of Gringos of the highest order, with both teams carrying perfect 4-0-0 records coming into the match.
The Xoloitzcuintles got the first bite with a goal by Alfredo Moreno in the 14th minute. Tigres defender Juninho muffed a clearance, which Hugo Ayala tried to clean up with a weak header that came to Fidel Martínez, who then passed to Moreno for the goal.
The Xolos were in total control and took this 1-0 lead into the half.
The second half began with more of the same until Tigres forward Lucas Lobos rose to the occasion. In the 53rd minute, after a weak shot on goal by Carlos Salcido, Lobos got the rebound and beat Xolos goalkeeper Cirilo Saucedo one-on-one to draw things even, 1-1.
Xolos seemed to have taken the lead back in the 59th minute, but the goal was negated due to an offsides call.
Then, in the 65th minute, Lobos ran into the 18-yard box, opened up for Danilinho, who then sent a centering pass to Lobos, who beat a defender and Saucedo to put Tigres up 2-1.
Corona, who was subbed out in the 68th minute, has yet to score for Club Tijuana this season.
A minute later, Torres picked up a yellow card for a hard foul.
With the 2-1 lead, Tigres seemed to have taken control of the game and sole leadership of Liga MX. However, the Xolos never give up and Duvier Riascos scored for the Xolos in the 73rd minute to tie the game up once more, 2-2.
After Tigres came oh-so-close to scoring, a long centering pass was tracked down by Riascos, who did not waste any time in scoring for Club Tijuana.
Xolos furiously tried to find a winning goal toward the end of the game, but Tigres hung on for the draw.
Once again, Greg Garza did not see any playing time.
Tigres retains sole possession of first place, based on goal differential, and will face Toluca next week. Meanwhile, Club Tijuana, who is technically in second place, will have to prepare for the challenge of a potent Club America squad.
Pumas 0 - 0 Santos Laguna
Hérculez Gómez wasn't particularly sharp in a scoreless draw between Pumas and Santos Laguna that left Gómez shaking his head in frustration.
It's a game of inches, and that's what separated Gómez and Santos from what could have been a 2-0 victory over Pumas, as two Gómez shots hit the goalposts.
Strangely enough, after debuting on the road with a victory, Pumas has now played in three consecutive draws at home, although they also had a golden opportunity to win the match on a failed penalty kick in the 45th minute.
After Eduardo Herrera was taken down near the edge of the 18-yard box on a chippy tackle, Efraín Velarde lined up for the penalty kick but didn't hit it well enough and Oswaldo Sánchez dove to his right to deflect the shot out of bounds.
Although Santos looked to be the more aggressive team in the early going, generating three clear scoring opportunities, including both of Gómez's shots on goal.
However, with the passage of time, Pumas began to take more possession of the ball and came close on a few opportunities, themselves.
In the 72nd minute, Gómez was subbed out for Marc Crosas.
Nevertheless, by the end, both teams settled for a frustrating draw that left both with the bitter taste of failure.
While Pumas hovers precariously near mid-table, the draw made Santos fall off the pace of the league leaders and into sixth place.
Puebla 3- 1 Morelia
With a little help from an own-goal and a pair of red cards, Puebla got a big victory over self-destructing Morelia to crawl into playoff contention.
DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Orozco both started the game for Puebla, with Beasley playing 66 minutes before being subbed out for Pablo González.
Morelia entered the game looking to run over Puebla, but found themselves at a disadvantage in the 15th minute when Joel Huiqui tried to head the ball backwards to Morelia 'keeper Federico Vilar, and instead knocked it into the net, giving Puebla a 1-0 lead.
Nevertheless, Morelia fought back and, five minutes later, a goal by Héctor Raúl Mancilla brought things even at 1-1. Aldo Leao filtered a pass to Joao Rojas, who then passed to Mancilla, who beat Puebla 'keeper Hugo Hernández.
Just when it seemed Morelia had grabbed the momentum back, Félix Borja blasted a shot past Vilar after Morelia defender Christian Valdez had stopped a header toward the goal by Segundo Castillo and the rebound fell to Borja.
As the game wore on, Morelia tried desperately to tie the game. In the 85th minute Mancilla came close, as his header bounced off the crossbar.
With two minutes to go, things began to fall apart for Morelia. Carlos Morales got a straight red card for a hard, studs-up tackle on Matías Alustiza.
Just a few minutes later, Alustiza turned the knife as he cut into the Morelia defense and managed to penetrate into the 18-yard box and finished things off with a blast to the far post for the goal.
At this point, beyond desperate, Morelia lost all sense and Mancilla was shown a straight red card for kicking Jonathan Lacerda, after Lacerda had fallen to the ground, supposedly in pain.
Morelia manager Rubén Omar Romano had seen enough and abandoned the field at this point. Moments later, his assistant Gilberto Adame was also shown a red card.
The Morelia disaster saw them drop to 13th place, while Puebla are at mid-table in 9th place.