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PUMAS Blog: Game 16: Pumas 3 - 0 Tecos

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Game 16: Pumas 3 - 0 Tecos

Video highlights here.

Pumas qualified for the Liguilla of Apertura 2008 with an ultimately convincing win over Group 2 rivals Tecos. The match was billed as the best attack in the league (Tecos) against the best defense (Pumas) and in the end the Pumas defense carried it, with the team from Guadalajara restricted to very few chances. The bad news for Pumas was that key midfielder Israel Castro (picture) joined Leandro and Barrera on the injured list as he twisted his ankle just before half-time. Equally unfortunately for the player, he had just been called up to Eriksson's Mexican squad for the game against Ecuador, and he will now miss that opportunity as he is out for a couple of weeks.

The only slightly surprising aspect about the starting line-up was the omission of Dante López. Otherwise the team was the one that beat Jaguares well in midweek. Tecos omitted talisman Rodrigo Ruiz, with suspicions that he was not at match fitness, and central defender Leaño.

The first fifteen minutes were relatively even, with neither side taking control of the middle. Of the wide players, only Íñiguez looked dangerous, while Morales for Pumas, and Medina and Sandoval for Tecos looked innocuous or were subdued by good defending. The home team however gradually gained the ascendancy, particularly in terms of possession, and Verón narrowly failed to push the ball past Corona after latching onto a free kick.

Although Pumas had control of the game, the opportunities they made were all wasted, Palencia heading over after a good Íñiguez cross and then later nodding another chance weakly at the keeper. Meanwhile an excellent 27-pass move by the UNAM team came to an end with Cacho completely miskicking a decent chance. Tecos's best moment was a long range effort from De Pinho that Bernal handled with no difficulty.

Half time came with the only further incident the injury to Castro, who twisted his ankle as he went for a tackle and immediately knew he was in trouble. After a minute or two it was clear he could not continue and Fernando Espinoza took his place in the midfield. Both teams were well set at the back and even after the break it was difficult to see the deadlock broken. The match began to meander, and it even looked as though a goalless draw might be on the cards.

Tuca realised that something needed to happen and with twenty minutes left he withdrew both wide players, Íñiguez and Morales, and put on Toledo and a third striker, Dante López. He clearly figured that the Pumas defence was controlling the Tecos attacking threat and he could move to 4-3-3, with Palencia tucked in behind the front two of López and Cacho.

It did not take long for the change to bear fruit. On 72 minutes a long Bernal clearance was headed on nicely by López and Cacho raced on into the space and dragged the ball with him. As Corona came out he neatly placed the ball past the UAG goalkeeper by the near post to put Pumas into a valuable lead.

Tecos began to push forward more, realising that their play-off place was at risk, despite having a game in hand on their rivals. De Pinho managed a decent header but Bernal was well-positioned, but in Tecos's efforts to score there were now many more spaces being left at the back. As the ball came through the middle on 80 minutes, Palencia pushed the ball nicely through to López, free on the edge of the area, and he lashed into the far corner for the second, and conclusive, goal.

"El Piojo" Herrera played his last card by throwing on Ruiz, and although he showed a few nice touches, Pumas were in no mood to concede and in the final few minutes could have had three more goals, as Toledo wasted two excellent cchances before Dante López grabbed his second. The Paraguayan surged into the area, but his shot was parried by Corona. Following up, Cacho helped the ball goalwards but defender Marcelo Sosa palmed it away and López was able to put in the rebound as the referee played an excellent advantage. Sosa was subsequently shown the red card and the match was over.

Pumas, although they may not finish in the top two places in the group (Morelia and Tecos can overtake them) will at least be amongst the highest placed in the General Classification. Tecos have an outstanding fixture against Atlante to make up the lost ground.

Goals
Juan Carlos Cacho (72 minutes) 1-0
Dante López (81) 2-0
Dante López (9) 3-0

Cards
Pumas: yellow: Palencia (late tackle)
Tecos: red: Sosa (handling on the line after a previous yellow)

Player Ratings
Bernal 6 - did all that was asked and a lovely long clearance for the first goal
Velarde 6 - had a lot of pressure coming down the right - it was Tecos's main outlet but coped well
Júarez 7 - his best game for Pumas - Sandoval did nothing on the left
Palacios 6 - a solid performance, but occasionally his clearance headers fell into dangerous areas
Verón 8 - outstanding and covered Velarde exceptionally well
Castro 6 - a decent first half, Pumas did not look so composed with Espinoza on
Chiapas 6 - not so incisive as in midweek, but some good distribution. He needs to work on his shooting from range
Morales 5 - quiet, and dropped too deep
Íñiguez 6 - the best attacker of the first half
Palencia 6 - he failed to take a number of chances, but worked much better holding up the ball behind the front two
Cacho 7 - with López on the field he looked a better player and took his goal well
López 8 - extremely influential scoring two and creating one
Espinoza 5 - worked hard but looked a little lost in the middle
Toledo 6 - did a lot of covering work with the three forwards on the field

Tuca 7 - a strange decision to leave out López, but made a brave move in his late substitutions and it paid off handsomely.

Elsewhere in Mexico
Santos missed a chance to ensure their qualification for the quarter-finals by conceding a late equaliser to already qualified San Luis. Ludueña took the lead for the visitors, San Luis drew level through Coudet, Santos went ahead again with a goal by Torres, but Cervantes got the 2-2 draw with a minute to go. "El Bofo" Bautista was the key figure for Jaguares as the team from Chiapas, who are already eliminated, compromised Pachuca's chances with a 2-1 win. Likewise Cruz Azul struggled against Indios and went down 1-0 to a Maggiolo winner. Nicolas Vigneri was sent off near the end for the "cementeros".

Toluca climbed above Tigres in Group 3 with a Héctor Mancilla winner in a 1-0 victory, his eleventh of the season. Atlas kept their slim qualification hopes alive by beating group 2 leaders Morelia 2-1. Achucarro and Vargas scored for the home side, while Droguett got a late consolation for Monarcas. Atlante could not confirm their quarter-final place losing to Necaxa's first win in thirteen games, the winner a Hugo Rodallega penalty.

Chivas, playing a reserve side in preparation for their Copa Sudamericana semi-final this week, went down 2-1 in Puebla, and will now struggle to qualify. América kept alive their extremely slim hope with a 1-0 win over Monterrey courtesy of an early Alfredo Moreno goal. Monterrey, Pumas's final regular season opponents, are now eliminated.

Two teams, San Luis and Pumas, have now booked their place in the last 8, while only Puebla, Jaguares, Monterrey and Necaxa are definitely out. Of the big teams, Cruz Azul have their fate in their own hands as they host Jaguares, while América and Chivas must rely on other results going their way, while beating Necaxa and Indios respectively.

Next Up
Pumas play Monterrey in a game which means little for qualification, but will decide where Pumas finish in the general table, and therefore who they will face. It promises to be a very interesting game in Torreón with Atlante playing Santos, both teams in Group 1. If Santos slip up then Pachuca or Indios could sneak through, while the Cancún team need just a point (they also face Tecos in midweek). Monarcas and Tigres who have both had good seasons face each other in what could be a winner takes all clash in Morelia.

Incidentally the games are not all to be played at the same time as in some previous tournaments. This is presumably to accomodate tv schedules.

On Wednesday Mexico take on Ecuador in Phoenix without their European-based players, one week ahead of their final group clash in Honduras. Chivas play the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana semi-final against Internacional.

4 Comments:

At 09:35, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Blog, excellent analysis...keep it up!! Makes it easier to follow my favourite team from London. Vamos Pumas!!!

 
At 23:58, Blogger DT said...

I agree these are far and away the best English language writings on Mexican football anywhere - DO NOT believe the shit yanks write about it.

Yeah, Trick, great disaster about Castro, he is a much better player than he seems, you dont notice him because he is so good.

Hey "anon" ... I am moving to London soon, ANY chance of seeing Mexican Footy on telly there? If that is Frank, "Hi Frank, see you soon", if not, let me know where we can see Mexican footy in the smoke!

Cheers
DT

 
At 06:04, Anonymous heney said...

Would be wonderful to see.

 
At 03:27, Anonymous jerry said...

That is excellent.

 

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