Pumas’s Copa MX run came to an end in a disastrous performance, in which they lost at home to a 10-man Necaxa. Pumas wasted an early lead by Nicolas Castillo and a man advantage, after Necaxa’s Dieter Villalpando got red carded in the first half. Coach Ignacio Ambriz totally outcoached Pumas coach David Patiño, who right nows looks as he is in over his head. Necaxa is now going to face Santos in the Copa MX semifinal, while Pumas is out of the tournament and can just concentrate on a Liga MX season that is spiraling out of control.
The importance of the match meant both teams had more regular season players than previous Copa MX games. Pumas came out with the return of Erick Torres but sat Matias Alustiza for Nicolas Castillo, their best striker. They also started players like Pablo Barrera and Jesus Gallardo, who normally didn’t play Copa MX unless needed.
Pumas had a great start to the game when on minute two, Castillo opened the scoring. A cross went through both Necaxa and Pumas players and Castillo slotted in.
After the first goal, Necaxa and Pumas battled to a tight game with not many opportunities. It looked like Pumas got a lifeline when Dieter Villalpando got red carded for a strong foul on Castillo in the middle of the field. The play was preposterous for Necaxa and seemed to give Pumas the best opportunity. Nico Castillo had a long range bomb hit the post but almost immediately got subbed out, in the first of bad news for Pumas. Castillo looked to be struggling from the Villalpando foul and came out for Alustiza. The rest of the half had no big opportunities for either team.
The second half started with Pumas going into the attack. A couple of close plays came about but Pumas didn’t convert. Then seven minutes in, defender Pablo Jaquez almost gave away a penalty to Necaxa, as he tripped a player just outside the area. Matias Fernandez took the free kick and tied the game. Suddenly, what looked to be an easy game, turned into chaos for Pumas.
Having gotten the equalizer, Necaxa started sitting back and gave Pumas the ball. While there were some interesting runs from Gallardo and Barrera, Pumas’ attacks mostly failed and the team had no imagination about how to break the bunker. Gallardo had a nice attack go to waste, which might have been the reason he later got subbed out for a Brian Figueroa, who had looked totally lost playing that position in their last Copa MX game.
Off a counter attack and in Necaxa’s first dangerous attack in minutes, Luis Perez went behind the Pumas defenders to strike a volley and put the 2-1. With Pumas in elimination mode, they went all out in the attack but didn’t have the ideas and showed a total disorder.
In the final minutes, a cross of the area could have been struck, but both Pumas players went for the ball and got in each others way. The game ended, and Pumas was done.
The defeat is another big hit to a Pumas season that has become a disaster. The Universitarios wasted a great start in Liga MX and have gone on to lose 4 of their last 5 games. This means that Pumas is out of Liguilla contention at the moment. They had looked better at Copa MX, but while losing at home to a tough Necaxa team might not have been surprising, losing to a 10-man Necaxa team totally is. There had been rumors that much maligned president Rodrigo Ares de Parga had said that if Pumas loses to Cruz Azul, “everybody had to leave”. It came out as just a rumor, but things might be looking that way if they drop points at Cruz Azul. After finishing last season in last place, a strong start had given much credit to Ares de Parga and Coach Patiño, but their current Liga MX struggles and tonight’s elimination meant that for the fans, that credit is gone and the pressure is going to be on for Saturday’s game. Pumas fans are among the biggest supporters in Mexico, but also the toughest critics and are tired of failure after failure.