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PUMAS Blog: Game 17: Monterrey 1 - 0 Pumas

Monday, November 17, 2008

Game 17: Monterrey 1 - 0 Pumas

Video here.

Pumas ended their regular season campaign with a poor performance and a 1-0 defeat in Monterrey. The home side were already eliminated and Pumas had already qualified so it made for an odd atmosphere inside the stadium. In the end they can take a few positives from the game: they finish with the best defensive record in the league (13 goals conceded) and incidentally joint top goal difference with Toluca, they will play the quarter-final second leg at home against Cruz Azul, and at least Efraín Juárez (picture) continued his good form.

Tuca began with the same team that started the second half so tamely last week, with Espinoza keeping his place in Castro's spot, and Palencia and Cacho inexplicably starting ahead of Dante López. Monterrey beagan with the twin strike force of Suazo and Borgetti.

The game had barely settled down when Monterrey had the lead. From a poorly conceded free-kick on the left hand side, Suazo blasted an optimistic shot towards the front post. Jehu Chiapas looked to clear but only succeeded in getting enough on the ball to push it past a badly placed Bernal at the front post. Against Atlante they were similarly punished for poor organisation defending a free kick with Maldonado's goal and this is an area Ferretti needs to look at as the Liguilla approaches.

Still, there was plenty of time for Pumas to get into it, but they failed to control the midfield and therefore created little pressure. It is unfortunate for the Pedregal team that they have lost both their major playmakers from the middle to injury: Chiapas has done reasonably well, but it is asking a lot of Espinoza to step right into Castro's shoes in a position he is unfamiliar with. Maybe the recall of Alex Diego could have been an option?

Pumas's best spell came around the 20 minute mark. First Íñiguez created a chance for Palencia, who shot narrowly over. Then, in the best move of the match Morales stormed into the area after a one-two with Cacho but Recio made a superb tackle as the left-winger was about to shoot. The "Rayados" (Stripes) created little in the way of chances either and most of the play took place near the centre circle.

Nevertheless Pumas should have been level on the stroke of half time, as a lovely diagonal ball from Chiapas found Íñiguez and his cross fell to Cacho unmarked about 8 yards out. The striker's tentative stab was very well saved by Martínez who had begun to narrow the angle, but the suspicion remains that Cacho should have done better.

For the second half night had fallen over the Cerro de la Silla (the famous saddle mountain), and sadly a veil had fallen over any quality football. Pumas more or less monopolised possession, but with Monterrey falling back more there was no real cutting edge, and only Íñiguez really looked like putting any pace on the game. Meanwhile Borgetti and Suazo could have taken out their pipe and slippers at the other end. Even the introduction of last week's hero Dante López on the hour made little difference.

The match meandered to a close, the play so dull that the Monterrey fans began fighting amongst themselves, presumably just looking for something to hold their interest. Pumas now have to look forward to the Play-offs, but they will not progress far playing like this. Their defensive solidity counts for little if they concede first and Cacho and Palencia have to start putting their chances away.

Humberto Suazo (6 minutes) 1-0

None - an indication of the lack of intensity in the game.

Player Ratings
Bernal 5 - the only thing he did was concede to another deflected free-kick. Must take some responsibility for the poor organisation at dead-ball plays.
Velarde 5 - we need to see more dynamic play coming forward, which is what he offers at his best
Palacios 6 - stayed deep but never really troubled
Verón 7 - if anything showed the most attacking urgency of anyone with a couple of dynamic runs forward
Juárez 7 - patrolled his right flank confidently, and is in a good vein of form
Morales 5 - one or two nice touches, but needs to be involved more
Chiapas 6 - a pity about the deflection for the goal, he went into his shell a little but still produced some nice passes
Espinoza 5 - lots of effort but still looks a little lost at "contención" (ball-winning midfielder)
Íñiguez 7 - looked Pumas's best option for a breakthrough and created a couple of chances that weren't taken
Cacho 5 - one or two nice passes, but he needs to score goals, and his first half miss was poor
Palencia 5 -holds the ball up well but like Cacho he needs to put the ball in the net when he has the chance
López 5 - made little difference but made one or two nice runs across the defence
Toledo 5 - his good form of a few games ago seems to have disappeared

Tuca 5 - a negative game-plan backfired. With qualification assured it would have been nice to see Pineda, Cabrera, Cortés or Bravo given a run

Elsewhere In Mexico
Pumas Morelos finished top of Primera A after defeating Mérida 2-1 in Cuernavaca. Luis Fuentes put them ahead after 37 minutes, but Enrique Pérez equalised for the visitors ten minutes after half-time. With ten minutes left Eduardo Herrera grabbed the winner, and Pumas progress to play Tigres B next week.

It was a bad week for Chivas, who despite having 25 points after their 2-0 win over Indios, failed to qualify on goal difference for the Liguilla. Tecos beat Puebla 3-0 with goals from Alcántar, Bareiro and De Pinho, and so edged out "el rebaño sagrado" (the sacred herd) by two goals. Chivas also lost at home 2-0 to Internacional of Brazil in the Copa Sudamericana semi-final first leg after Omar Arellano missed three clear chances for the home side. They now need to win by three in Porto Alegre if they are to progress to the final.

Cruz Azul claimed 5th spot overall with a comfortable 4-1 win over Jaguares, with Pablo Zeballos grabbing a hatrick. The consolation for Jaguares was by "El Bofo" Bautista in possibly his last game for the club. Pachuca let slip a chance to qualify with a poor 1-1 draw at home to Atlas. The "Tuzos" (Pachuca are known as the Tuzos - a kind of mole - because of their mining heritage) took the lead through the influential Christián Giménez, but almost immediately conceded an Atlas equaliser through Darío Botinelli.

Tigres qualified for the play-offs at the expense of Morelia who they defeated 2-1 in Michoacán. Monarcas played for an hour without Salazar, who received a harsh straight red, and Guillermo Marino got two for Tigres. Toluca booked their play-off spot with a 1-0 home victory against leaders San Luis, with Sinha getting the winner for the "diablos rojos" (red devils). Víctor Pírez missed a penalty for San Luis.

Walter Gaitán and Hugo Rodallega scored as Necaxa saw off América 2-0 in the dead game between two teams already eliminated. Necaxa therefore avoid finishing bottom of the general classification; América finish bottom of Group 2. In a dull game in Torreón, Santos and Atlante played out a 0-0 draw which puts the "Potros" (colts) into 3rd place overall. Santos finish in 10th place but qualify because of the group system, as they finished 2nd in Group One. Morelia and Chivas miss out with better records.

The Quarter-Finals
The higher ranked team will play the home leg second. There will be no midweek games as Pachuca did not qualify and therefore there is no rush to finish the championship before the World Club Championship.
San Luis (1) v Santos (10)
Toluca (2) v Tecos (7)
Atlante (3) v Tigres (6)
Pumas (4) v Cruz Azul (5)

Next Up
Pumas play their quarter-final first leg on 22nd November, the return leg on 30th. Pumas Morelos play Tigres B on the same date in the quarter-finals of Primera A. Chivas travel to Brazil for their second leg tie against Internacional in the Copa Sudamericana semi-final.


At 06:05, Anonymous heney said...

Both sides started in an orderly fashion, not giving much away

At 03:27, Anonymous heney said...

That is excellent.


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