Don’t look now, but Tijuana is back in the thick of things in the 2017 Apertura thanks to a cerebral 2-1 win over Pachuca in Estadio Caliente.
The match started off well for Tijuana, who were able to really pressure Pachuca and get a couple of chances early at Alfonso Blanco. In the 13th minute, Victor Guzman was sent off when he raked his cleats down the back of Damian Perez’ leg.
Xolos played smart soccer, looking to retain possession and finding the open manwith passes. They were content to allow the play to develop, knowing that they had the advantage in terms of numbers and the home field. In the 24th minute Perez hit a shot that was mishandled by Blanco, however it deflected wide of the goal and out for a corner.
Gustavo Bou was a constant nuisance for the Tuzos defense, being called offside three times in the first half alone. His tenacity would pay off in the 42nd minute however when Matias Aguirregaray did well to pick off a clearance and drive it deep into the box. His cross was played poorly by Oscar Murillo and wound up being headed onto the turf by Quick Mendoza. Bou was in the right place at the right time, scoring his fourth goal in four games to put Xolos up 1-0 before the half.
Xolos started the second half by constantly pressuring Pachuca, who brought on Keisuke Honda. It worked for a while, however in the 63rd minute Shaggy Martinez would hit a shot through traffic that Gibran Lajud got a hand on, but not enough to stop the ball from going into the net.
The match got chippier and more contentious as it went on. Xolos picked up three yellow cards in the second half alone, and there were plenty of fouls. Xolos had a great scoring chance when Juan Iturbe broke in on goal down the left and shot on goal. Blanco made the save, however Iturbe missed Joe Corona streaking down the right completely unmarked. Still, Xolos continued to pressure Tuzos.
It would all pay off in the 87th minute when Alejandro Donatti hit a shot on goal that clearly deflected off of a Pachuca player’s arm. While most of the players stopped and looked at the referee to see if it would have been called, Damian Musto kept his eye on the ball and hit a brilliant chileno to put Xolos up late.
Juan Iturbe had a chance at the death as Blanco had gone up to the Xolos end for a free kick. The ball came to Iturbe who raced downfield and had several yards on Blanco with just one defender ahead of him. Iturbe’s shot at the open net went just wide, however it didn’t matter as the referee’s whistle sounded, ending the match.
Xolos face Atlante in Copa MX play on Monday, and their next Liga MX match is next Sunday at the CU against Pumas. Tuzos next match is against Chivas on September 9 in Liga MX play
Club Tijuana: Gibran Lajud; Damian Perez (Henry Martin - 84’), Victor Aguilera, Alejandro Donatti, Juan Carlos Valenzuela (Joe Corona - 74’), Matias Aguirregaray; Victor Malcorra, Damian Musto, Luis Chavez (Juan Iturbe - 65’), Luis Mendoza; Gustavo Bou
Pachuca: Alfonso Blanco; Emmanuel Garcia, Oscar Murillo (Juan Calero - 90+1’), Omar Gonzalez, Robert Herrera, Raul Lopez; Pablo Lopez (Keisuke Honda - 46’), Luis Hernandez, Jose Martinez; Victor Guzman; Roberto Carlos de la Rosa (German Cano - 78’)
Scoring: Club Tijuana - Gustavo Bou (43’), Damian Musto (87’); Pachuca - Jose Martinez (63’)
Disciplinary: Club Tijuana - Damian Perez (Yellow - 25’), Damian Musto (Yellow - 62’), Alejandro Donatti (Yellow - 78’), Victor Malcorra (Yellow - 82’) ; Pachuca - Victor Guzman (Red - 13’)