Fidel Martinez didn't score or notch an assist but he was the most important player on the pitch as he drew two red card and a penalty kick that guided Pumas to a 3-0 win and the final Liguilla spot of the tournament. Pumas now will enter as sixth place and will face Tigres in the quarterfinal round.
This is a big accomplishment for a team that defied expectations and earned a Liguilla spot after hiring a first-time coach and losing key players before the season.
After failing to win their last home game against Morelia, Pumas needed to get all three points away to Puebla to qualify for the Liguilla. Not only would it be difficult because Puebla is team in the middle of a relegation fight, but because Pumas only had one away win (against Veracruz) all season.
The match started with Pumas having the ball and creating some chances but not enough to create any extreme sense of scoring. Matias Britos had some misses and it looked like the ref missed a penalty kick against him.
Yet the key play came in the last minutes of the first half. Fidel Martinez stole a ball and was set to go for a clear chance when Patricio Araujo stopped him. The ref red carded him for being the last man and this play completely changed the game.
The second half started with Pumas benefiting from their man-advantage and creating better opportunities. Then the second key play happened when Martinez was brought down inside the area and a penalty kick was called. Pablo Barrera converted and started his man of the match play during this game.
Puebla reacted to the goal but a great play by Pablo Barrera was finished by Matias Britos for the 2-0.
Finally, Fidel Martinez got a bad tackle from behind from Francisco Torres that got him a red card and the game was finished for Puebla. Pumas took total control of the game and Pablo Barrera burst through wide open and converted the 3-0.
The rest of the game was all Pumas as they passed the ball around until the final whistle.
Pumas’ win was the bonus to a great season for first-time coach Francisco Palencia. Pumas had some great seasons before, but here, they had lost their best player (Ismael Sosa) and their offensive spark (Luis Quiñones) because of financial problems. Also, on paper, the new signings weren't very inspiring, especially the return of Barrera who was returning from being a bust in Monterrey. But Barrera and Spanish player Abraham Gonzalez both took the league by surprise and were key players to a season that has defied expectations. It will be a tough road against Tigres, one of the best teams in the league, but Pumas has already done more than enough and everything after this will be a sweet bonus.