The first game of the Eduardo Coudet era in Tijuana turned into a validation of Paco Jemez and Cruz Azul, as Los Cementaros defeated Xolos 2-0 at Estadio Caliente in Tijuana.
While Tijuana were afforded a disproportionate number of set pieces early, it turned out that Cruz Azul had the first good look at goal when in the seventh minute a corner kick lead to Topo Valenzuela being forced to clear a header off of the line. In the 13th minute, Matias Aguirregaray’s clearance hit off of Martin Cauteruccio and just on the outside of the post.
Crazy scenes in the 20th minute when Cruz Azul was awarded a penalty when Manuel Lajud came out for a tackle and went knee-to-knee with Martin Rodriguez. Rodriguez was subbed out early and was last seen on the bench with ice wrapped around his right knee. Adrian Aldrete struck the ball off the underside of the crossbar and it bounced out, much to the relief of the Xolos players.
Moments later however Edgar Mendez put a header on goal that Gibran Lajud didn’t play cleanly and the ball hit off of him and rolled into the net.
Xolos looked at times like a team that hadn’t played together all that often. Players often wandered into each others’ space, and passes seemed more hopeful than purposeful at times. Still, Xolos were able to put some decent runs together.
Nacho Malcorra had a great look at goal in the 34th minute, but his left-footed shot went wide of the far post. The rest of the first half was a chippy affair, with two Cruz Azul players picking up yellow cards and a multitude of fouls committed by both teams.
Chacho Coudet subbed out Henry Martin for Luis Chavez at the start of the second half, and it paid dividends early on. Xolos looked better in the attack, with Juan Martin Lucero almost converting a backheel redirection of a cross from Nacho Malcorra in the 49th minute.
Gustavo Bou made his debut as well, being subbed on for Mauricio Cuero in the 62nd minute. This too paid dividends, as Xolos were able to really start stringing sequences together and putting forth a decent attacking strategy. To their credit though, Cruz Azul held fast and didn’t allow many solid looks at goal.
In the 80th minute, Xolos pressed very high in an attempt to score the equalizer, however a poor clearance led to a Cruz Azul break. Martin Cauteruccio drew out Gibran Lajud and calmly slid it across to Edgar Mendez, who easily slotted it home to give Los Cementeros a 2-0 lead.
Xolos certainly have a lot of work to do, but it wasn’t all gloom and doom for the Perros. Coudet’s ability to change tactics on the fly and adapt to the situation is very promising, and with a few more weeks together Xolos should be a much more polished team in the attack. Xolos face Necaxa next Saturday in Aguascalientes, while Cruz Azul has their Copa MX opener against Zacatepec on Wednesday before hosting the defending champions Chivas Guadalajara on Saturday.
Tijuana: Gibran Lajud; Damian Perez, Victor Aguilera, Juan Carlos Valenzuela, Matias Aguirregaray; Damian Musto; Ignacio Malcorra, Alejandro Guido (Daniel Lopez, 71’), Mauricio Cuero (Gustavo Bou, 62’); Henry Martin (Luis Chavez, 46’), Juan Martin Lucero
Cruz Azul: Guillermo Allison; Adrian Aldrete, Julian Velazquez, Julio Dominguez, Omar Mendoza; Gabriel Penalba (Enzo Roca, 80’), Rafael Baca; Edgar Mendez, Angel Mena, Martin Rodriguez (Rosario Cota, 23’); Martin Cauteruccio (Christian Gimenez, 89’)
Scoring: Tijuana - None; Cruz Azul - Edgar Mendez (21’, 80’)
Disciplinary: Tijuana - Gibran Lajud (Yellow, 18’), Victor Aguilera (Yellow, 71’), Juan Martin Lucero (Yellow, 76’); Cruz Azul - Rafael Baca (Yellow, 39’), Gabriel Penalba (Yellow, 45’), Julian Velazquez (Yellow, 53’)