Pumas came back from being down 2-0 to get a 3-2 win away in Pachuca in their 2018 debut in Liga MX. Pumas showed their defensive weakness but also their fighting spirit as new forward combination of Nico Castillo and Matias Alustiza came through to get a very important away win. Pumas get an away win in their first game of the season when the season before they failed to get a single away victory. Pumas now is set to play Atlas in their home opener and are hoping that their defensive problems improve and that their offense keeps their spirited play.
Pumas and Pachuca were set to play a very tough game for both. Pachuca, along with Monterrey, was the team with the least amount of time off after playing the Copa MX final on December 21. Still, Pachuca looked better from the start, although the team wasted Keisuke Honda’s great passes. Pumas meanwhile had some control of the ball but failed to create much and Nico Castillo looked frustrated.
After a corner kick, a second header left Franco Jara wide open to head in the 1-0. The defensive mistake really showed that Pumas’ defensive struggles should continue this season.
Things would then get worse for Pumas. The ref failed to call an obvious penalty on Castillo and the Pumas defenders protesting left Pachuca clear for a counter attack. Off the shot, goalkeeper Alfredo Saldivar cleared straight to Honda, who scored.
It looked like Pachuca had complete control of the match but Castillo was able to pounce on a Pachuca mistake to hit a hard shot for the 2-1 in the final play of the first half.
The second half started with Matias Alustiza making his Pumas debut, after coming in for Alan Acosta. The move changed the momentum of the game and Pumas suddenly started being more dangerous. Pachuca’s goalkeeper Alfonso Blanco made a big mistake off a David Cabrera free kick that left the ball for Jesus Gallardo to tie the game. Gallardo hadn’t had a good first half but the score more than made up for it.
After the score, Pachuca started to take more control of the game, but Pumas always looked dangerous and could have had a goal if Mauro Formica had tried a shot in the area instead of holding the ball too long for a Pachuca clearance.
Then off a great play by Alustiza, Castillo was able to complete the comeback. After a ball was sent to Alustiza, he back-heeled it through to Castillo at the halfway line and Castillo went through alone all the way to the area and scored it past Blanco.
Pumas then started sending defensive players in to close the game and Pachuca came close to scoring but Pumas was able to pull the win though.
The 3-2 win against Pachuca is a huge win for Pumas. Not only does the win help in the probable relegation fight that Pumas has entered. but it also shows that their offense is really good when they click. The Alustiza signing looks hug,e especially when combined with a healthy Nico Castillo, who is one of Liga MX ‘s best players. Still, the defensive mistakes in Pumas’ backline are troubling, more so because Pumas didn’t upgrade in the position at all. Yet the win is a promising sign and it already beats any result Pumas had last season. Only time will tell if it was a good omen or a fluke.