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Perhaps it was the relegation battle that took centre-stage in Round 11 after Atlas took a big step towards safety with a win over direct rivals, Veracruz and Atlante got hammered when they visited Pumas.
Pumas five-goal haul certainly made them the big winners of the weekend and moved them up to third but there still appears no sign of Cruz Azul or Toluca slowing down. Chivas picked up a morale boosting victory over Leon while rivals, America continue to stumble in a playoff zone that is becoming increasingly congested.
Querétaro 0 – 2 Toluca
Another win for Toluca and another defeat for Querétaro meant that, Toluca moved to the top of the table (albeit for 24 hours) and the situation darkened for Los Gallos Blancos. Second half headers in the space of five minutes, from Pablo Velázquez and Edy Brambila were enough for the win and a fifth consecutive defeat for Querétaro. In addition to their off-field issues, it is a worrying time. Conversely, Toluca continue to impress and although Cruz Azul leapfrogged them a day later, this still represents an excellent Torneo Clausura and bodes well for their inevitable part in La Liguilla.
Cruz Azul 2 – 1 Tijuana
Marco Fabián continues to make a very strong case for his inclusion in Mexico’s World Cup plans and to the relief of Cruz Azul he was once again the match winner on Saturday evening in the Estadio Azul.
Tijuana travelled to face the runaway league leaders boasting the worst away record in the league so it came as a surprise when Richard Ruiz put Los Xolos in front just before the break. With La Máquina and in particular, Mariano Pavone spurning a number of good opportunities during the first half the thought of an upset emerged. However, just minutes after the restart, Fabián put them back on level terms. The Tijuana defence obviously didn’t think there was much danger when they left Fabián in acres of space some thirty yards from goal but the stocky forward had other ideas. Brimming with confidence, Fabián took a touch and then smashed the ball into the bottom corner.
With 20 minutes remaining, Fabián repeated the trick despite being a little more tightly marshalled. Driving in from the left he picked up a loose ball and fired the ball past Cirilo Saucedo. La Máquina tried to add some distance and in the final moments, Fabián had an opportunity to complete his hat-trick but missed the chance.
Veracruz 0 – 1 Atlas
Outspoken, Atlas Manager, Tomás Boy had promised his sides safety earlier this week and Los rojinegros took a big step towards that with a hard fought 1-0 over their direct rivals, Veracruz. A true relegation “six-pointer”, although Atlante may still ensure both sides safety, was always likely to be a tightly contested and fiery encounter and so it transpired in the Estadio Luis Pirata Fuente.
Veracruz controlled the early possession but it was Atlas that took the lead in the 23rd minute. José Ortigoza fizzed the ball across the face of the goal and the arriving, Maikon Leite had the simple task of tapping the ball past Edgar Hernández. The sending off of Amaury Ponce just minutes after the break handed the impetus to Los Tiburones Rojos but no breakthrough could be found and when Carlos Cardenas levelled the numbers after being shown his second yellow card the advantage was lost.
Monterrey 0 – 1 Morelia
Carlos Adrian Morales’ fiercely struck free-kick in the second half was enough to give Ángel David Comizzo his first win as new Morelia boss and extend Monterrey’s woeful run of form and particularly their dreadful record at home.
With both sides not in the best shape for one reason or another it was no surprise that the match was played at a rather pedestrian pace and appeared a little disjointed. Monterrey continue to drop down the table and find themselves occupying the same position held by Atlante, while Morelia will be hoping the winning start to Comizzo’s reign will signal a more positive future.
Santos Laguna 3 – 1 Pachuca
Santos came back from a goal down to comfortably see off Pachuca and leap into the playoff spots. Having drawn in Venezuela in the Copa Libertadores on Tuesday night, Santos now appear to juggling their joint commitment successfully. The impressive Jurguen Damm gave Pachuca the lead after just 7 minutes with a forceful run at the Santos backline culminating in a powerful poke past Oswaldo Sánchez. With 11 on the field, Pachuca were holding Santos but when Colombian, John Pajoy was shown a second yellow card after just 33 minutes the tide turned.
Pachuca held out for the remainder of the first half but Santos dominated after the break. Andres Renteria lashed a loose ball home just after the hour mark and with 10 minutes remaining the brave resistance was broken. Javier ‘Chuletita’ Orozco headed in a deep cross from the left and minutes left on the clock Oribe Peralta made certain of the win. Darwin Quintero’s clipped ball over the top was bravely headed by the Mexican International as Sánchez desperately lunged for the ball.
Chiapas 2 – 2 Club América
Both sides’ poor defending contributed to an exciting match in Chiapas but they will know that they must improve if they are to, in the case of América, challenge for the title, and in the case of Los Jaguares reach the playoffs. Argentine, Lucas Viatri rifled Chiapas in front from 30 yards after 20 minutes and with Las Águilas current vulnerability if it had not been for Moises Muñoz it could have been worse.
Instead, before the break, Ruben Sambueza’s floated ball into the box was flicked from the head of Paul Aguilar and into the bottom corner. On the hour mark, Chiapas led again. Félix Araujo rose between Aquivaldo Mosquera and Juan Valenzuela to powerfully head past Muñoz. Ten minutes later and América were level again and once again Sambueza was the provider. This time it was his corner from the left and Velenzuela jumped highest to divert the ball beyond the grasp of Alfredo Frausto.
Puebla 0 – 1 Tigres
Tigres also climbed in the table to move within striking distance of La Liguilla with a 1-0 win away to Puebla. It wasn’t as fluid a performance as Tigres have produced in recent weeks but Damián Alvarez’s well taken goal less than 1o minutes from time was enough. This latest win leaves Tigres just a point behind Morelia in the final playoff spot.
Pumas 5 – 0 Atlante
Pumas massacre of Atlante in the Estadio Olímpico Universitario not only jumped José Luis Trejo’s side up to third in the table but looked to have broken the resistance of Atlante in their battle for survival. Pumas had failed to beat Atlante in their recent Copa MX match but revenge was sweet. Martín Bravo headed Pumas in front and the flood gates opened as Pumas mauled beleaguered Atlante. Ismael Sosa added a simple, breakaway second before Bravo was allowed to score this second by some generous defending. Second half goals by Diego Lagos and Dario Verón completed the rout and send some very worrying signs to Atlante.
Chivas 1 – 0 León
Chivas returned to winning ways with an impressive win in the Estadio Omnilife over León. Three games without a win and finding goals hard to come by it took Los Rojiblancos just 6 minutes to take the lead against the current Torneo Apertura champions. Giovani Hernandez was slipped into the left channel by Israel Castro and from an acute angle, Hernandez slotted the ball past William Yarbrough. León were obviously missing the likes of Gullit Peña and Luis Montes but Chivas took full advantage and now find themselves level on points with Club America and in the playoff spots.
STANDINGS – FIRST STAGE CLAUSURA
League table courtesy of FIFA.com
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