EDGAR ZUNIGA - Monday, February 18, 2013
The Two Amigos and Club Tijuana fall to pieces on the road, Jose Francisco Torres and Tigres draw with Herculez Gomez and Santos Laguna, and DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Orozco tie with Chivas.
Jaguares 2 - 0 Club Tijuana
After a strong start to the defense of their championship, the Xoloitzcuintles have suffered consecutive losses and dropped to fourth place, right behind Atlas.
With Greg Garza yet to even get a sniff of action this season, the Three Amigos have been reduced to dos, and, in Club Tijuana's loss to woe-be-gone Jaguares, the Amigos were reduced to zero.
Although Edgar Castillo and Joe Corona got the start once more, neither one finished the game.
Xolos got caught with their minds already on Tuesday night, when they play two games on the same night thousands of miles apart against Colombian champions Millonarios in a Copa Libertadores group match in Colombia and an innocuous friendly against Major League Soccer champions Los Angeles Galaxy in Southern California.
Whatever the case, Xolos lacked any bite in the first half, while Jaguares just waited to strike. Having proved ineffective, Corona was subbed out at the half in favor of Richard Ruiz. Three minutes later, Castillo punched his own ticket out of the game, while costing his team the game at the same time.
Franco Arizala managed to get behind Castillo with the ball and Castillo saw no other option but to bring him down in the box, earning himself a second yellow - the first coming in the sixth minute - and an automatic red card, and giving Jaguares a penalty kick.
Luis Gabriel Rey stepped up and fired the ball past Cirilo Saucedo to give Jaguares the 1-0 lead.
Down a man, Club Tijuana struggled to adjust.
Fourteen minutes later, Arizala ran up the right flank and toward the 18-yard box. However, instead of firing at the goal, he filtered a pass to Rey, who beat Saucedo for the 2-0 score.
By the end, the Xolos were protesting calls by the referee and looked mightily frustrated. The consecutive losses are the first for the team with manager Antonio Mohamed.
Tigres 1 - 1 Santos Laguna
Once again, errors by Herculez Gomez cost his team a victory in a tense match against Jose Francisco Torres and Tigres that ended in a draw.
While neither gringo went the full 90, they were in the starting lineup, as Santos scrapped for a good dose of respectability against the undefeated frontrunners.
The crowd was still settling into their seats when Santos shocked Tigres with a goal in the second minute.
After Tigres threatened to score right off the bat, Santos took the ball, which eventually came to Darwin Quintero, who scrambled to the right side before unleashing a blast from outside the 18-yard box to the far post, beating Tigres goalkeeper Enrique Eduardo Palos.
In the 16th minute, Tigres almost tied the game when Lucas Lobos almost scored off a free kick that was deflected by a Santos defender. Five minutes later, Tigres almost scored again when Emanuel Villa headed the ball with his back to the goal and Santos 'keeper Oswaldo Sánchez was slow to react. To his fortune, the ball bounced off the crossbar and Sánchez covered up the rebound.
However, Tigres finally broke through in the 36th, when Damián Álvarez fired a centering pass from the left flank that was chested down by Juninho, who turned and fired a left-footed shot just inside the post to tie the game 1-1.
In the second half, Santos pressed on the attack, however it was Tigres who almost scored in the 58th minute, when a shot by Álvarez missed the goal.
It also did not help that the Santos attackers failed numerous attempts, including one by Gomez in the 69th minute, when he found himself one-on-one with Palos and his shot flew over the goal.
Torres, who wasn't involved on the scoreboard, was subbed out in the 73rd minute for Jesús Alberto Dueñas, and with four minutes left in regulation, Gomez was subbed out for Cándido Saúl Ramírez.
Despite the draw, Tigres remained alone in first place, as Club America could only manage a 1-1 tie with lowly Toluca. Meanwhile, Santos found themselves in the 8-spot, just above Pumas.
Puebla 1 - 1 Chivas
DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Orozco were in the starting lineup as Puebla scrapped to a draw with visiting Chivas.
Puebla actually looked the better of the two and showed more signs that last season's debacle is slowly fading into obscurity.
While Chivas had the first clear chance to score in the 12th minute, it was Puebla who dictated the pace of the match and generated more scoring opportunities despite not being able to finish said chances.
Beasley came very close in the 23rd minute when Puebla went on a fast break and he was on the receiving end of a pass by Félix Borja and found himself behind Chivas 'keeper Luis Michel. However, Miguel Ponce knocked the ball away before Beasley could push the ball into the net.
It wouldn't be until the 52nd minute before Puebla finally took the lead. Diego de Buen passed to Borja, who outhustled a Chivas defender, ran into the box and beat Michel low and to the near post for the 1-0 lead.
However, less than two minutes later, Chivas responded with a goal of their own when Ponce lobbed a centering pass into the box, catching the Puebla defense ball-watching and Marco Fabian slid toward the far post and knocked the ball in for the 1-1 score.
In the 66th minute, Beasley was subbed out for Matías Alustiza.
Puebla nearly stole the game in the 83rd minute, when Luis Noriega fired a pass into the 6-yard box, where Borja leapt for the header, but the ball went high into the crowd.
The tie leaves Puebla in sixth place, while Chivas, who drew for the fifth time this season, crept closer to the playoff picture in 10th place.