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Match recap: Atlas 1, Club Tijuana 0

Former Xolo Milton Caraglio converts a penalty to give Atlas three critical points.

Eduardo “Chacho” Coudet looks on during a Tijuana match. Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente press release

Coming into the match, both teams needed a win to keep themselves in the Liguilla conversation. Atlas would capitalize on their opportunities and slingshot past Tijuana in the standings on a 1-0 win.

In the opening minute, Atlas was able to put one past goalkeeper Gibran Lajud, but the play was ruled offside. Xolos would immediately counter and put one on net, but Óscar Ustari was able to see it wide. In the eighth minute, Miller Bolaños pass took a deflection off of Luis Reyes directly to Gustavo Bou, who was right in front of the Atlas goal, but Bou put the shot well over the net.

In the 17th minute, Reyes sent a cross across the front of Gibran Lajud’s goal, however Juan Vigón was unable to connect with his flying kick and the ball went out for a goal kick.

Xolos high defensive press didn’t pressure all that much early on in the game, instead seeming to wait back and let Atlas make the inevitable mistake and turn the ball over. Atlas did pressure, with ex-Xolo Milton Caraglio forcing the center backs and Gibran Lajud to rush their passes out of the defensive third.

In the 29th minute, Atlas put another one past Lajud after a miscommunication between Damián Musto and Matías Aguirregaray, however the goal was offside and nullified. After the play, Musto and Aguirregaray got into an altercation, with Aguirregaray grabbing Musto and getting into his face.

In the 43rd minute, a free kick was awarded to Atlas about 20 yards out. Ravel Morrison hit a beautiful arcing free kick that hit off of the bar and out.

The second half was rather pedestrian until the 62nd minute, when Emanuel Aguilera and Stiven Barreiro got tangled up in the box and a penalty was awarded. The Tijuana players were furious, as the contact looked incidental, but the call was made nonetheless. Caraglio took the penalty and beat his former teammates to put Atlas up 1-0.

Xolos tried pushing forward and getting something going offensively, however after the goal Atlas collapsed into a defensive posture, looking to keep men behind the ball and choke off passing lanes. Donatti would put a header on goal in the 77th minute off of a corner kick, but it went straight at Utsari and was saved easily.

It was clear though that the toll of playing three games in a week had taken its toll on Xolos, as the players looked exhausted. Passes were sloppy and miscommunication lead to passes to no one and turnovers.

In the 87th minute, Pantera Bou hit a good free kick but it went just over the bar for a goal kick. As the click hit 90’, Xolos were finally able to break through and get in on goal, but Ustari was there and was able to smother the ball. A minute later, Milton Caraglio lead a three-on-two break but Lajud was able to stop his shot and Donatti was able to clear it out of danger. Lajud would make another great save on Brayan Garnica deep into added time, however the result was the same - Atlas gained three points and overtook Xolos in the Liguilla standings.

There will be no rest for the weary however, as Xolos face Monarcas Morelia on Tuesday in a Copa MX match before ending their road trip back in Guadalajara against Chivas. Atlas on the other hand will have a Clásico Tapatío match against Chivas in the Copa MX on Wednesday before heading out to Querétaro to face Los Gallos Blancos on Saturday.

Club Atlas: Óscar Ustari; Luis Reyes, Daniel Arreola, Stiven Barreiro, Osvaldo González, José Madueña; Javier Salas, Brayan Garnica, José Ávila (Facundo Erpen, 72’), Ravel Morrison (Luis Robles, 79’); Milton Caraglio

Club Tijuana: Gibran Lajud, Damián Pérez, Emanuel Aguilera, Alejandro Donatti, Juan Carlos Valenzuela, Matías Aguirregaray (Henry Martín, 70’); Damian Musto, Ignacio Malcorra, Luís Chávez (Juan Iturbe, 46’); Miller Bolaños, Gustavo Bou

Scoring: Club Atlas - Milton Caraglio (64’); Club Tijuana - None

Disciplinary: Club Atlas - Javier Salas (Yellow - 86’); Club Tijuana - Emanuel Aguilera (Yellow - 63’)