The top of the table remained unchanged this week, as all four of the leading teams in the Primera standings failed to claim a win. The league's top four clubs heading into Round 10 -- Jaguares, Cruz Azul, Chivas, and Tigres -- all played to 1-1 draws over the weekend. Another featured match, the battle of new coaches at Club America and Club Tijuana, also ended in a 1-1 scoreline. With the 1-1 draws leading the way, we take a look back at the top stories from Round 10 of the Mexican Primera's Apertura 2011 season.
Battle at the Top
Cruz Azul and Chivas entered their match on Saturday with 17 points each, putting them in a three-way tie (along with Jaguares) for the top spot in the league standings. Cruz Azul claimed a slight advantage in goal differential, but otherwise the numbers appeared equal between the two teams. Saturday’s match was supposed to provide some much-needed separation, but 90 minutes of play at Estadio Azul failed to even slightly disrupt the balance.
It was Chivas who grabbed the upper hand in the first half, with a 35th minute score from Omar Arellano. The goal came as the result of a great end-to-end push from Chivas, sparked by a long release from Luis Michel to Marco Fabian, who rushed the ball forward, eventually finding Arellano in front of the Cruz Azul net. The advantage wouldn't last for Chivas, though. In the second half two quick (and questionable) yellow cards shown to Miguel Ponce just minutes apart put Guadalajara down a defender. Ponce was the third Chivas defender to see red in just two matches, after Jonny Magallon and Kristian Alvarez were both set off last week against Puebla. With the man advantage, Cruz Azul were able to increase their forward pressure. The inevitable equalizer came in the 63rd minute through a beautiful ball into the box from Chaco Gimenez. The ball found Edixon Perea, and the Colombian striker used his head to knock it home. It was another key goal from Perea, a fill-in for the injured Emanuel Villa. Last week Perea also came through with a header to give Cruz Azul the road victory over Monterrey. This time, la Maquina had to settle for just the draw.
Clash of the Cats
On Saturday night at Estadio Universitario in Monterrey, UANL Tigres and Jaguares de Chiapas played to an entertaining 1-1 draw. And while the visitors couldn’t claim the win, the match did prove that Jaguares are a team to be taken seriously. The league’s surprise team over the first half of the season, Jaguares came into the weekend on top of the standings and looking to build on last week’s dismantling of Club America. They wouldn't quite duplicate that performance, but Jaguares turned in a strong effort in one of the league's most intimidating road venues.
After an eventful, yet scoreless 80 minutes of play, Tigres finally broke through the Jaguares defense and found the back of the net. A deflection fell to the feet of Lucas Lobos at the top of the box, and his strong shot down the middle through traffic put Tigres on top. After struggling to beat Jaguares goalkeeper Edgar Hernandez, Tigres finally had their goal and looked to be on their way to the win. Less than ten minutes later, though, they were undone by a costly error from Hugo Ayala. Jaguares midfielder Jorge Rodriguez pounced on an Ayala giveaway, streaked down the left side all the way into the box, and with his left foot just beat Enrique Palos to even the scoreline.
The end result almost felt like a win for Jaguares, who maintain their position on top of the standings (along with Cruz Azul and Chivas). The result also shows that Jaguares are legit contenders this season in Mexico. Tigres may have been the better team overall on the night, but the visitors did more than enough to hold their own. In one of the league’s toughest environments, Jaguares not only claimed an important result, but came from behind to grab the crucial point. Jaguares are now in great shape to lock down a Liguilla position in the coming weeks. The club from Chiapas hasn’t lost a match since back in week two, and has a very favorable schedule to close the season.
Xolos Close, But Yet So Far
The Tijuana Xolos couldn't have asked for a better begining to their debut match at Estadio Azteca. Just 13 second after the opening whistle on Sunday, the visiting Xolos posted a 1-0 lead over Club America on the stadium scoreboard. With America goalkeeper Armando Navarrete failing to hold onto a cross, Tijuana midfielder Javier Yacuzzi was left with a wide open net. His goal instantly boosted the confidence of the visiting Xolos, while leaving the home Azteca crowd in stunned silence. This was not the way the Alfredo Tena era was supposed to begin.
After their instant-goal lead, Tijuana continued to hold strong through the first period. Things changed following the break, though, as the Aguilas turned up the pressure and Tijuana struggled to hold onto their narrow lead. Coming in waves, the America attack proved too much to handle. After a valiant defensive effort by Tijuana, Christian Benitez finally broke though in the 85th minute, salvaging the single point for the home side. Chucho's goal certainly helped America save face a bit, but it doesn't hide the fact that a home draw to Tijuana is nothing to be particularly proud of. America needs to start winning games now (if not last week) if they want any shot at Liguilla qualification. Marooned in 16th place in the league table, time is quickly running out. It doesn't get any easier next week, either. Tena’s club makes the short trip to Ciudad Universitaria this weekend for the grudge match against rivals Pumas UNAM.
Round 10 Scoreboard
Cruz Azul 1 - 1 Chivas
Queretaro 2 - 1 Monterrey
Tigres 1 - 1 Jaguares
Pachuca 1 - 1 San Luis
Estudiantes 1 - 2 Pumas
Atlas 2 - 3 Atlante
Puebla 1 - 2 Santos
Toluca 2 - 1 Morelia
America 1 - 1 Tijuana