Chivas surprised Pumas in Mexico City as they were the better team and earned a point as a reward. Pumas once again failed to get three points at home and were lucky to get the draw after Oswaldo Alanis missed a penalty to leave the game at 1-1. The miss was Alanis second penalty kick taken, the first one coming from a very dubious call. Even when their play was disappointing, Pumas can complain about being on the receiving end of a bad job by the referee because, even earning a red card because of complaints.
For the first time in a while, Pumas went heavily favored in a game against Chivas. While Chivas had been playing better than their poor record showed, a number of off the field events heavily benefited Pumas. Because of the CONCACAF Champions League, Chivas had played with their main squad in the Dominican Republic. The travel then forced Chivas to only arrive late Saturday in Mexico City. To make matters worse, they would face Pumas at 12PM, where the hosts had the heat and altitude in their favor. Pumas took advantage of this almost immediately, as they went close seconds in the game with a Matias Alustiza shot that went wide.
Three minutes later, Pumas opened the scoring when Pablo Barrera’s shot was blocked by the keeper but went straight into Nico Castillo, who scored.
| #UDLigaMX: ¡GOOOOL! Nico Castillo abre el marcador a favor de los felinos al 4' @PumasMX 1-0 @Chivas— Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports) February 25, 2018
Sigue el partido en VIVO https://t.co/jOYYfvKwoi pic.twitter.com/0oXnoui6MJ
Things looked great for Pumas and bleak for Chivas, but the early goal seemed to hinder Pumas. Coach David Patiño’s plan seemed to be to sit back and wait for Chivas to exhaust themselves, while they sent long balls to Castillo. The plan was somewhat, as Chivas took control of the ball but failed to create much danger.
In a counter attack, Jesus Gallardo had the best chance of the half when he made a shot that slipped through goalkeeper Rodolfo Cota’s hands, straight into the woodwork and then right back to Cota.
In the second half, Chivas’s control of the game became greater as Pumas began to falter almost immediately. Chivas looked a lot more dangerous but the finishing remained the same.
Pumas had subbed out Alustiza for Mauro Formica, which had the effect of totally isolating Nico Castillo and ending most of the danger of Pumas’s attacks. Pumas really missed David Cabrera (suspended for a Red Card against Tijuana), as the midfield failed to win any balls with substitute Abraham Gonzalez being M.I.A. In addition, once again Pablo Barrera had a terrible game.
After a cross into the area, a Chivas player fell and penalty kick was given. Replays of the play seemed to show that the contact was minimal and the Chivas player looked to have embellished the play. Oswaldo Alanis converted to tie the game.
Pumas started to show more momentum but their attacks were totally predictable . In the final minutes of the game, a cross into the area was missed by Pumas goalkeeper and defender Luis Quintana cleared with his hand to gift Chivas another penalty. While the kick was taken, defender Alejandro Arribas protested and referee Cesar Ramos gave Pumas a red card for second straight game. A goal would have probably given Chivas the win but Alanis’s shot went into the stands. In the end, Pumas were lucky to get a draw.
The game was a huge disappointment for Pumas. While they had all the advantages coming in, they ended up wasting all of them. A Chivas team that played on Thursday in the sea level came into the heat and altitude of Mexico City and outplayed a team that had a week to prepare for the game. Pumas historically has depended on their mobility and never say die attitude, but their recent struggles have been because of their failure to live up to that. While this particular Pumas team looks to be different, performances like Sunday’s shows that the team might not be as good as first thought. On the other hand, Chivas had been struggling results wise, but performances like today can give their fans something to be proud of and a bit of optimism heading into the second half of the season.