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PUMAS Blog: CONCACAF CL Game 4: Firpo 1 - 1 Pumas

Sunday, October 12, 2008

CONCACAF CL Game 4: Firpo 1 - 1 Pumas

See the video here.
Read & hear about all Champions League games here.

On a muddy night in the Estadio Cuscatlán in San Salvador, the Pumas youngsters grabbed a point to keep them at the top of their qualifying group in the CONCACAF Champions League. While the football was not of a high standard, at least Martín Bravo began to pay back the faith showed in him with a nice finish for the equaliser.

Of the starting eleven, only Ismael Íñiguez and captain for the night Fernando Espinoza can claim to have been first team regulars. Juan Carlos Ramírez and Fernando Santana made their first starts in the competition, and Pablo Bonells partnered Bravo up front. Firpo were without two players called up to the national squad, goalkeeper Juan José Gómez and defender Manuel Salazar.

Pumas began the game controlling possession despite the sticky conditions, but clear openings were hard to come by. Neither side showed any degree of penetration, and Íñiguez, despite his experience, could make no impression down the right. Bravo did make a direct run into the box past three defenders but his cross ran across the face of the goal with no Pumas support in sight. Shortly later a corner fell to Cabrera but his shot was pushed away by the keeper. These incidents apart the most either side managed was the occasional long-range shot of little danger.

The second half continued the imprecise and messy pattern of the first, with another long-range Pumas effort pushed away. But then Pumas's old failings when defending dead ball situations came to the surface and Firpo were one ahead. Pekarnik took an inswinging corner on the left and Quintanilla rose unchallenged on the six-yard line to head past Palacios.

Minutes later Martín Bravo was celebrating the equaliser and his first goal for Pumas. Íñiguez crossed from the right and "el Rata" took the ball down on his chest and fired low into the far corner. The goal, however, did not spur the Pumas into greater action and the game settled down once again into a dull domination of midfield with a lot of mistakes and little goalmouth action.

Ferretti made a couple of changes and brought on Medina, Cortés and Herrera and there was time for Íñiguez to miss a couple of decent chances and Herrera to come close. But there never truly seemed a realistic prospect of a goal from either side.

The game ended with a curious incident. Goalscorer Quintanilla was given a direct red card for a late challenge on Espinoza, but when the game restarted he hadn't left the field. Play continued for a couple of minutes until the Pumas players finally brought it to referee Ricardo Zelaya's attention. It was then that Quintanilla went off but Pumas players were also upset that the Honduran referee failed to add on extra minutes which were lost while all this was happening.

Failure to win puts more pressure on Pumas for their trip to Houston on 22nd October, but they still lead the table and will all but confirm their passage to the next stage with a win in the United States.

Mauricio Quintanilla (51 mins) 1-0
Martín Bravo (54) 1-1

Pumas: none
LA Firpo: yellow: Sánchez; red: Quintanilla

Player Ratings
Palacios 6 - did nothing wrong and seems to have leap-frogged Patiño as reserve goalkeeper
Ramírez 5 - solid at the back against a limited Firpo attack
Fuentes 6 - brought the ball out of defence well
Espinoza 5 - the team needed more of a captain's lead and he was largely anonymous
Cabrera 6 - lively and the most mobile of the Pumas players on the night
Santana 5 - struggled with the accuracy of his passing in the mud
Diego 5 - found the sticky conditions difficult and never seemed to have any balance
Pineda 6 - found some space and was one of Pumas's better attacking options
Bonells 5 - lumbering, and with poor control
Íñiguez 6 - did ok but a man of his experience in this company should have shone more
Bravo 7 - not a complete performance but a couple of very promising moments
Cortés 5 - added nothing much to the attacking options when he came on
Medina 5 - did nothing of note
Herrera 6 - looked willing to get involved and a better bet than Bonells.

Tuca 5 - I am still not convinced by this sort of selection. Nevertheless the fixture list is crowded and with a Sunday game against Cruz Azul crucial in Group 2 of the Mexican championship you can understand the decision.

Elsewhere in Mexico
Santos Laguna gained some sort of revenge for their soggy defeat in Puerto Rico by overcoming the Islanders 3-0 at home with goals from Peralta, Hernández and Herrera.

Atlante drew 1-1 after letting slip a lead in Honduras against Olímpia. A free kick by goalkeeper Federico Vilar had put them ahead, but Wilmer Castro equalised in the 83rd minute for the Hondurans.

Cruz Azul had also had trouble on Tuesday night against Honduran oppostion, drawing 1-1 at home with Marathón. Javier Orozco had put Cruz Azul ahead early on, but Marathón drew level in the 87th minute through Erick Norales.

Next Up
Despite it being a FIFA international weekend, there are amazingly still league fixtures in Mexico. Cruz Azul visit Pumas, Pumas Morelos travel to Atlético Mexiquense and Mexico visit Jamaica.


At 20:14, Blogger DT said...

Lots of late (and important) goals in this jornada. Islanders, to be fair, had a complete second team as they face a League Final on Sunday.

You are generous about the "curious incident" of a player being allowed to continue after receiving a red card - it is shocking refereeing, unthinkable.

Tuca also was very restrained in the post-match press conference - I find this curious that managers who scream and shout about "wrong" decisions tend to be calm about ones which a clearly very very bad - maybe that tells us a little about the ones they get so upset about.....

At 14:53, Blogger Richard said...

I think maybe Tuca felt it had not really affected the result. It is a bit of a mess this jornada coming close to league games and a FIFA date. Hopefully the clubs can put out fully competitive sides for the remaining fixtures.


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