Torneo Clausura Week 4 round-up

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Plenty to mull over after Round 4 as Cruz Azul and Toluca continued to impress, unbeaten and only separated by goal difference at the top of the table while we also had the first managerial casualty after Morelia’s defeat to Tijuana.  With the Copa Libertadores just about to start the directors decided that Carlos Bustos was out and have moved fast to bring in Eduardo de la Torre. The bottom of the table also got a little more interesting, with the gap closing between Atlante and Atlas. Atlante drew with fellow strugglers Chivas and Atlas lost again, this time to America.

Queretaro  0 – 0  Santos

Santos’ poor start to the Torneo Clausura continued with a goalless draw against Queretaro leaving Pedro Caixinha’s side without a win. Oribe Peralta was the main threat for Santos but could not muster a goal and the two sides that have found goals a little hard to come by battled to a draw. Los Gallos Blancos will certainly be the happier with their current position in Liga MX but there is plenty of time for Santos to improve.

Tijuana  1 – 0  Morelia

Tijuana’s fine form in the Estadio Caliente continued on Friday night with a 1-0 win over last season’s Copa MX winners, Morelia. Argentine centre half, Javier Gandolfi’s second half header was enough to mean that Los Xolos are now unbeaten at home in 16 matches, a run which if they can maintain will serve them well heading towards La Liguilla.  Morelia have a Copa Libertadores playoff against Colombia’s, Santa Fe on Wednesday but that did not deter the board from firing Carlos Bustos. Instead, ‘Chepo’ de la Torre’s cousin, Eduardo has quickly been drafted in tasked with getting more from one of Liga MX’s most talented squads.

Cruz Azul  4 – 0  Veracruz

It is early days but Cruz Azul will be thrilled with the way they have started the Torneo Clausura, unbeaten and having conceded only one goal, La Maquina sit on top of the pile. Saturday’s visit of Veracruz to the Estadio Azul was their most emphatic victory to date. A rampant opening 45 minutes saw the game ended as a contest but it wasn’t until the half hour mark before Cruz Azul let their dominance tell. Ecuadorian, Joao Rojas cut in from the right and although his initial effort was blocked the rebound fell kindly to the winger and he thumped the ball past Edgar Hernandez. Eight minutes later, the lead was doubled. A corner from the left was headed powerfully into the net by Colombian veteran, Luis Perea and before Los Tiburones Rojos could regroup and make it to the break it was three. Another set piece was flicked into the path of Argentine Striker, Mariano Pavone and he diverted the ball past the helpless Hernandez. The pick of the bunch came 10 minutes from time when Marco Fabián played a one-two before rifling the ball from the angle into the bottom corner. A steady defence and now a growing attacking force makes Cruz Azul a genuine threat and creates a growing expectation from the fans.

Tigres  1 – 2  Pumas

A meeting between two of the most out of form sides both in search of a first victory was decided late but Tigres will look back ruefully on a match that swung against them just prior to half time. Argentine midfielder, Guido Pizarro stooped to head Tigres in front after just 11 minutes but a rash elbow from Jose Rivas as he jostled at a corner reduced the home side to 10 and firmly handed the impetus to Pumas. Martin Bravo equalised from the penalty spot after Efraín Velarde was clipped by Jesús Dueñas Manzo and with five minutes remaining Bravo broke the offside trap and slotted in the winner. Pumas can breathe a sigh a of relief after recording their first win but Tigres slump to the foot of the table and in need of 3 points fast.

Leon  1 – 3  Pachuca

Following defeat in the Azteca last weekend to America, a response from Leon was expected. However, the Torneo Apertura champions produced their worst performance in some time and it was ruthlessly punished by Pachuca. Enner Valencia rose high between Rafael Marquez and Edwin Hernández to head Pachuca in front after 23 minutes and despite a reaction from the champions they were unable to force an equaliser. As Leon pushed, Pachuca’s threat on the counter increased and just before the hour mark Jürgen Damm broke down the right and his cut back was converted by Alex Colon from close range. The third came from a similar source when Damm once again crossed from the right. This time the ball fell to Enner Valencia and the Ecuadorian made no mistake in scoring his second of the game. With minutes remaining, Mauro Boselli pulled one back from the penalty spot but it was too little too late for the Champions. Perhaps still suffering from a hangover after the Torneo Apertura, Leon have not performed at the level they are capable of so far and this will need to change soon.

Atlas  1 – 2  Club America

Title contenders, America fresh from victory over Leon against relegation candidates, Atlas was, on-paper, a certain away win. In the end, Antonio Mohamed’s side got the expected victory but they were made to sweat for the 3 points in Guadalajara. In the build up to the match it was revealed that America number 9, Raul Jimenez would not travel with the squad as the youngster was in need of a rest. In his absence America looked a little short up front but thanks to Colombian, Luis Gabriel Rey, Las Aguilas were able to grind out a win regardless. Rodrigo Millar nodded Atlas in front just before half time but as expected America cranked up the pressure after the break. Similar to Millar’s goal, Luis Gabriel Rey stole a yard in front of his marker to meet a cross from the left. His strong header came off the underside of the bar leaving Federico Vilar no chance. With 10 minutes remaining and the game heading for a draw it was Rey’s predatory instincts in the box that made the difference. This time the ball arrived from the right and the striker rifled in a low left footed half volley to ensure Las Aguilas went back to Mexico City with all 3 points.

Puebla  2 – 3  Chiapas

Leading by two at home at half time should be a position any side will be disappointed not to see out but a rousing second half performance from Chiapas reversed the half time score line. Saul Villalobos fired Puebla in front from outside the box and a horrendous own goal by Luis Robles gifted the home side the advantage at the break.
However, two goals in two second half minutes brought Los Jaguares level. First, Mauricio Romero lashed in a loose ball and in the next attack Luis Rodriguez slipped in the equaliser. Deep into stoppage time with the game heading for a draw, Martin Zuniga headed in the winner to complete the comeback.

Toluca  2 – 0  Monterrey

Unbeaten and trailing Cruz Azul only on goal difference is to be considered a good start to the season for Toluca. Paulo da Silva’s close range header gave Toluca an early lead and late on Juan Manuel Salguerio fine volley ensured that the home side would be going back to the summit.

Atlante  1 – 1  Chivas

Perhaps it says more about how bad Chivas were in the past year that a performance such as this can be seen as progress. Los Rojiblancos are now harder to beat but still look a little toothless in attack but if this could be improved perhaps Chivas will start moving in the right direction. A stunning long range free kick from Michael Arroyo gave struggling Atlante the lead but a wonderful opportunist lob by Gerardo Rodriguez brought Chivas level. The point is not particularly helpful to either side as Atlante are still trailing their closest rival at the foot of the relegation table and Chivas look certain to be in the mix in a years time.

STANDINGS – FIRST STAGE CLAUSURA

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PeterCoates

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