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PUMAS Blog: Game 12: Pumas 0 - 2 Cruz Azul

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Game 12: Pumas 0 - 2 Cruz Azul

Video here.

Pumas slipped further down the table after another defeat, this time at home to local rivals Cruz Azul. The reverse sees them having gained only one point in four games, including only one goal. Despite having much of the play and arguably being the better side, Pumas were unable to take their chances and two defensive errors, as against Atlante, were their undoing.

Darío Verón and Dante López were absent on international duty with Paraguay so Pumas started with Cacho and González, giving them their first all-Mexican line-up for several years. Cruz Azul started without Gerardo Torrado, in action for Mexico, but did boast ex-Pumas Joaquin Beltrán and Jaime Lozano.

The first few minutes of the game were very open as both sides pushed forward with purpose, keen to make a good impression early on after being unable to win their last three. Morales was making inroads down the left, and Toledo was mobile giving Pumas the edge, and Palencia went close with a header. Then Carlos Humberto González cleverly worked free of his marker at a free kick but put the header just wide. At the other end Bernal had to be alert to stop a strong Zeballos header and the veteran goalkeeper clasped it at the second attempt.

Pumas continued to control the ball and looked comfortable dealing with Cruz Azul counter-attacks, but Beltrán was in fine form in the "cementeros" defence and Toledo had a snap-shot inside the area well saved by Gutiérrez, while Cacho showed good movement and also went close. Chiapas and Castro were distributing well, González looked in good form at the back, and both wingers looked strong. It looked only a matter of time before Pumas would score. And it looked like Palencia had done just that just before half time as he swivelled deep in the area to shoot firmly at goal, but the young Cruz Azul keeper was alert and made a good save to push the ball for a corner.

In the second half Pumas continued to have the upper hand, but still could not score, the closest they came being a lovely counter-attack which ended with Cacho feeding Morales who pushed narrowly wide as he attempted to chip the advancing Gutiérrez. Toledo had also threatened with a well struck shot from the edge of the area which flew just wide.

It was mystifying with this advantage that Tuca should withdraw the dangerous Morales for Íñiguez who came onto his unfavoured left side. The team suddenly lacked balance and the pattern of the game changed. Cruz Azul looked more confident in the middle, but it was an unfortunate slip by Palacios who got caught narrowly out of position which let in Villaluz to feed Zeballos on the left, and he pushed the ball past Bernal for the lead.

Again Tuca reacted in a strange way, bringing on a subdued Orlando Pineda who had played two days before and lacked big-match experience, and then bringing off right-back Juárez for Martín Bravo. The team structure was all over the place by then, and it was little surprise when Cruz Azul sealed victory five minutes from time when two of their substitues combined. Alejandro Vela (brother of Carlos) slipped down the left in the channel left free by Juárez's withdrawal and crossed accurately for Orozco to head powerfully into the net.

So that was that. Pumas drop back to fourth in Group 2, and seventh overall, while Cruz Azul go to the top of the same group.

Pablo Zeballos (69 minutes) 0-1
Javier Orozco (86) 0-2

Pumas: yellow: Chiapas, Juárez, Palacios
Cruz Azul: yellow: Héctor Gutiérrez, Viades, Beltrán

Player Ratings
Bernal 6 - could do nothing much about the goals and released his players quickly when he could
Juárez 6 - looked good going forward but is always getting carded
Palacios 6 - an excellent game and then he falls over and gives away the goal
González 6 - his best game for a long time, and then he wandered into no man's land and gave Orozco a free header for the second
Velarde 7 - lively and composed in defence - Cruz Azul did nothing down the right
Castro 6 - a decent ball-winning stint
Chiapas 6 - a good solid game with some nice passes and crosses
Morales 6 - not always precise but often difficult to deal with
Toledo 7 - a constant danger on the right, and brought the ball up well in the middle too
Cacho 5 - lots of movement but he needs to score, and get into more scoring positions
Palencia 6 - worked hard but no goal
Íñiguez 5 - ineffective on the left and drifted out of the gqame after that
Pineda 4 - sorry to have to say this but looked completely lost
Bravo 5 - added nothing

Tuca 4 - dreadful substitutions - the first merely for the sake of it then the others to desperately try and rescue things. Why is it always necessary to make all three changes? Couldn't Íñiguez have come on on the right?

Elsewhere in Mexico
Leaders San Luis played out an interesting 0-0 draw at home to Chivas. "El Bofo" Bautista scored two as Jaguares thrashed under-pressure Necaxa 4-0 in Tuxtla. A drab game saw Tigres overcome Tecos 1-0 in Monterrey with the goal coming from "El Pájaro" Aguilar. Atlas and Monterrey played out a muddy 0-0 in Guadalajara, although the hosts were aggrieved not to have had a penalty.

In a strange match in Cancún, Indios de Ciudad Juárez pulled back from two behind to draw 3-3 against Atlante for whom Gabriel Pereyra was sent off. Pereyra himself had got two for the home side while Ricardo Esqueda got a brace for Indios. Two goals from Andrés Mendoza helped Morelia overcome Toluca 3-2 in Michoacán, while Santos went down 2-0 at Pachuca after they had two goals disallowed for dubious offsides. Alfredo "el chango" Moreno got the lead for América at home to Puebla then got himself sent off before Fabiano Pereira equalised with three minutes left as it finished 1-1.

Atlante (23pts) comfortably lead Group 1 from Santos (16), Cruz Azul (19) top Group 2 from Tecos (18) and San Luis (24) remain top overall and in Group 3, with Tigres (18) in second. Pumas are 4th in Group 2 with 17 points.

Pumas Morelos notched up a 3-0 away win in Toluca against Atlético Mexiquense, with goals from Salvador Medina, José Aguilar and José Tovar.

A dreadful performance in Kingston saw Mexico lose 1-0 to Jamaica as they got involved in a physical encounter on Wednesday. Stoke City's Ricardo Fuller got the goal.

World News
Ex-Puma Joaquin Botero (Pumas 2003-2006) scored twice as Bolivia beat Peru 3-0, thus becoming the top scorer in his country's history as well as the leading scorer in the South American qualifiers with 5 goals. A hard-working player with a low profile, he struggled to make an impression in Mexico scoring only 14 goals in 72 games despite some good performances. Botero is now with Bolivar in his native Bolivia.

Next Up
Pumas travel to Puebla next weekend. There is no midweek fixture because of internationals. Mexico travel to Canada in their latest World Cup qualifying fixture. Pumas Morelos host Jaguares.


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