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PUMAS Blog: CONCACAF CL Game 5: Houston 1 - 3 Pumas

Friday, October 24, 2008

CONCACAF CL Game 5: Houston 1 - 3 Pumas

Video here.

Pumas qualified for the quarter-finals of the CONCACAF Champions League with a good away win against double MLS Champions Dynamo Houston. The stories of the game were of a dreadful refereeing performance by Nean Brizan of Trinidad, and a wonderful goal by Marco Antonio "Pikolín" Palacios. It was only his third goal in a senior Pumas game, and those who saw his finishing skills when he played up front under Miguel España may blink when reading the phrase "golazo del Pikolín".

Pumas began the game with mostly a second team. Palacios's brother Alejandro was in goal, with Fernando Santana, Orlando Pineda, Luis Fuentes and David Cabrera also from the reserve side. Experience was added from the senior side's bench.

The UNAM side started cagily, allowing Houston to come forward, but the US side's inaccuracy of passing led to a rather scrappy midfield struggle in which neither team had the ascendancy. Pumas were looking to use their speed on the break, and on 17 minutes they had the lead from a quick counter-attack. The ball was played through to Ismael Íñiguez who just as he was going into the area was pushed by Patrick Ianni. There was further contact inside the box and the referee was quick to award a penalty. Whether or not there was any doubt about the award of the kick, Juan Carlos Cacho stepped up and slotted the ball coolly towards the middle of the goal, as Patrick Onstad dived to his right, and that was 1-0 Pumas.

Houston continued to push forward more, this time in search of an equaliser, and Palacios nearly surprised his own brother with an overhit backpass. But Pumas were yet again able to capitalise on the spaces behind the Houston midfield, going two up after the half hour. A quick attack saw Chiapas set Orlando Pineda free down the left, and Fernando Espinoza turned up on the end of his low cross to place the ball neatly into the far corner for the second.

Houston got back into the game towards the end of the first half with their best spell of the match. Pushing forward dynnamically and using their size and strength they made life difficult for the inexperienced Pumas defenders, who nevertheless cut down the spaces and refused to be bullied. However, Houston did pull one back on 38 minutes when Cameron put in a dangerous low cross from the right and Alejandro Palacios made a mess of coming out to allow Jaqua to push the ball past him. And the same player nearly made it 2-2 a couple of minutes later as a long range effort clipped the top of the bar. Half time came at a good moment for Pumas as they were absorbing quite a bit of pressure.

Dynamo came out in the second half clearly determined to dominate Pumas physically, and they were permitted to get away with not only the odd bad tackle but some obvious foul play too. Although there were one or two cases of Pumas protests it was amazing that something more serious did not erupt as the Trinidad official lost control of the game. Jaqua had stamped on Chiapas, Holden made a number of bad tackles, and Robinson tried to headbutt the admittedly irritating Cacho. All of this resulted in one yellow card, for Holden, who was taken off by Dominic Kinnear to possibly avoid him being sent off. Ironically it was Pumas who ended up with five players in the book.

It did not make for a sparkling second half and neither side really played any interesting football, but Pumas's lives were made easier by the one shining moment of an otherwise drab half. Íñiguez played in a low near post corner and Palacios lost his marker racing towards the corner flag. As the ball came to him, he outrageously flicked a volleyed backheel past bemused defenders and amazed colleagues to rifle it into the top corner for Pumas's third. A wonderful piece of skill all the more incredible for the player achieving it. He then ran off to dance the "Jarabe tapatío" (Guadalajara syrup - a traditional Mexican dance) in celebration, later claiming he had done this because of his delight at putting one over on the Northern neighbours.

Although Pumas have only 9 points, their qualification is assured, and Houston must now fight it out with LA Firpo who grabbed a valuable 3-2 away win against San Francisco.

Juan Carlos Cacho (17 mins)(pen) 0-1
Fernando Espinoza (30) 0-2
Nate Jaqua (38) 1-2
Marco Antonio Palacios (69) 1-3

Quite a surprise there were no sendings-off in this one:
Pumas: yellow: Cabrera, Íñiguez, Fuentes, Bravo, Palacios
Houston: yellow: Holden

Player Ratings
A.Palacios 4 - looked nervous, and weak when challenged. At fault for the goal.
Pineda 7 - had an excellent game. A good prospect but now has to displace Velarde.
Palacios 7 - great goal and defended well too under pressure
Fuentes 6 - looks to have a future too as he held his nerve
Santana 5 - did not look out of place but needs to distribute better
Chiapas 6 - some nice touches
Cabrera 5 - has dynamism but lacked precision
Íñiguez 6 - caused problems with his pace, and did well to stand up before being fouled in the box for the penalty
Cacho 5 - he has to keep playing in these games, and the whole squad will benefit if he finds his form
Bravo 6 - is starting to look fitter, and is adjusting better to the pace of the game
Cortés - only on for a few moments

Tuca 6 - good team selection and didn't chase the game too much early on. The team was settled by going ahead.

Elsewhere in Mexico
Both Cruz Azul and Atlante gained 2-0 victories on Tuesday night in the CONCACAF Champions League. The Cancún team gained revenge for their defeat at home by winning against Joe Public in Trinidad with goals from Valadez and Pereyra. Cruz Azul struggled but finally overcame bottom team DC United with goals from Vigneri and Zeballos. Two DC United goalkeepers were sent off. Santos Laguna beat FC Tauro 3-0 in a game of four sendings-off (two each side). Christián Benítez got two and Gregorio Torres the third.

Meanwhile Chivas took home a 2-1 first leg advantage from their away fixture against River Plate in the Copa Sudamericana quarter-finals. Despite being under pressure Chivas converted two of their three chances (Omar Arellano and Marco Fabián de la Mora the scorers) and River pulled one back with a last-minute penalty from Uruguayan Sebastián "el loco" Abreu, a player who has played for 7 different Mexican teams.

Next Up
The qualification race is hotting up as Pumas host Indios on Sunday. Other interesting games are Atlante v Tecos (2nd in Group 1 v 1st in Group 2), and the clásico América v Chivas. Pumas Morelos travel to Quintana Roo to meet Potros Chetumal.


At 01:45, Blogger DT said...

WHAT A GOAL!!!!!!!!!!

Sideshow Bob - he da man! Although a little downside to this - the Houston goal I felt was a clear own goal by him.

Great report thanks - I could not see the match thanks to f***ing ESPN ....

At 10:02, Blogger Richard said...

I thought it was an own goal at the time, but I have to say that I couldn't make it out when I watched the replays.

The match was delayed 45 minutes due to an electrical storm in Houston. Was that why you had trouble with ESPN? Didn't seem to affect the pitch much though - a decent surface unlike against Firpo.


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