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PUMAS Blog: Game 3: Pumas 2 - 1 Toluca

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Game 3: Pumas 2 - 1 Toluca

See the video here.

An average Pumas performance against an under par Toluca side was resucued in the Olympic Stadium by a gutsy performance by Fernando Espinoza (picture) and a wonderful last-minute strike from Leandro Augusto.

The story all week had been about Leandro, who has had an unfeasible amount of opposition to his call-up to the Mexican national side. Although he did not particularly shine during the game this was completely overshadowed by his 89th minute strike. The game was drifting towards what would have been a fair draw, with Pumas pressing forward but with little conviction when the ball reached Leandro about 25 yards out on the left hand side. Taking a little step forward he struck the ball ferociously and it sped right into the top corner, hitting the inside of the post and nestling in the back of the net. The crowd burst into life, "Como no te voy a querer" rang round the stadium, and Pumas had their second win of the campaign.

All this had seemed far away when Toluca had taken the lead in the 9th minute. A drowsy start from a line-up only changed by the inclusion of Fernando Espinoza for Efrain Juarez allowed Amaury Ponce to float in a wonderful long ball over the central defenders and Héctor Mancilla poked the ball past Bernal with his shin. Throughout a turgid first half the crowd remained quietly optimistic, but although Pumas had possession they created little danger. Cacho was obviously trying hard but coming too deep, and he and Dante Lopez have yet to gel as a striking partnership. The principal threat came from Iñiguez down the right and a couple of long range efforts from Castro. The only other action of the first half was a header apiece from central defenders Da Silva (Toluca) and Verón (Pumas) which went close after set pieces.

In the second half Pumas began to press more, but still without conviction. Nevertheless Fernando Espinoza was having a lively game at right back, and almost unexpectedly he fed Iñiguez, raced into the box and took the winger's low cross first time, thrashing it past Cristante for the equaliser on the hour. Toluca now pulled back even further and both teams made some ineffectual changes. The draw looked the only possible result, until Leandro came up with his "golazo" and silenced a few critics.

In a bizarre incident with about twenty minutes to go, the normally unflappable (and grumpy) Pumas manager Ricardo Ferretti, was sent off for disrespectful behaviour after he showed his understandable contempt for the new Mexican Federation rule that a manager cannot remain out of his seat for more than three minutes. It is difficult to understand the reasoning bejhind this initiative, and "El Tuca" pretended to return to his seat on various occasions before "sneaking" back to the technical area. Young referee Rafael Medina felt himself obliged to send Tuc off, but really the referee ought to be concerned about matters on the field rather than enforcing such a ruling, which could be left to the fourth official for example. In any case Ferretti will be banned from the sidelines next weekend against Morelia.

Héctor Mancilla (9 minutes) 0-1
Fernando Espinoza (59) 1-1
Leandro Augusto (89) 2-1

Pumas: yellow: Verón, Palacios, Leandro; red Ferretti
Toluca: yellow: Almazán, Méndez, la Torre, Ríos

Player Ratings
Bernal 6 - really had nothing to do
Espinoza 7 - his return after being dropped was full of enthusiasm and ideas
Palacios 7 - other than the goal completely untroubled
Verón 7 - again assured in the centre of defence
Velarde 6 - didn't get forward much but sound
Leandro 7 - great goal but below his high standards in the first half
Castro 7 - the only player to look good in the first half
Iñiguez 6 - kept trying and good pull back for the first goal
Morales 6 - one or two sparks but is inconsistent
Cacho 5 - it still isn't working for a player who is a team man
Lopez 6 - made some good runs but still not connected with his teammates
Toledo, Juárez, Bonells - little time to make an impression

Tuca 6 - an unimpressive performance but a good result and he is right about the Federation's rule.

Elsewhere in Mexico
A Joaquín Beltrán goal in the 5th minute set Cruz Azul on their way to a 2-0 win in the Azul against Tecos, despite a rather lacklustre performance. Two goals from Israel Martínez gave an impressive San Luis a 2-0 win over Jaguares and sent them to the top of the table. Meanwhile Indios de Ciudad Juárez suffered their third consecutive defeat falling 3-2 at home to Necaxa. Colombian Hugo Rodallega scored two for Necaxa.

Chivas continued their unsteady start to the season drawing unimpressively 1-1 at home to Monterrey, and having to rely on a controversial penalty retake for their goal. Former Pumas favourite Kikín Fonseca finally broke his year-long goal drought and also delivered a scoring pass as Tigres overcame Atlas 3-0, while diminuitive midfielder "EL Hobbit" Bermúdez had a similar influence for Atlante who overcame Pachuca 2-1 in Cancún. Santos and Puebla are still yet to win after sharing a 0-0 draw in the Estadio Cuauhtémoc, Jorge Estrada was sent off late on for Santos. Ismael Rodríguez had threatened to leave América if he did not get more game time, and he got his wish on Sunday in the Estadio Azteca against Morelia. Unfortunately after Enrique Esqueda had put América ahead Rodríguez gave away the penalty for the equaliser and got himself sent off for complaining about the decision; this could make it easier for Ramon Díaz to leave him out next time.

Pumas Morelos continued their good start to the season as a Luis Rosas goal in the first half was enough to beat Atletico Mexiquense 1-0 in the Estadio Cententario.

Next Up
Late Sunday kick off in Morelia against Monarcas. Pumas Morelos are away to Jaguares.


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