In a game in which they were the better team and Pumas shot itself in the foot with a baffling substitution by Michel, Leon gave Pumas its second loss of the season when they came out on top 2-1. If the game was a test to see if Pumas was a real contender in the Liguilla, they failed it badly. Leon was the better team, had the better chances, and were deserving winners. Leon bounces back from their past home tie against Veracruz, and will now be favored when they return home next week against Atletico San Luis, while Pumas will have a tough visit against much improved Queretaro and might be out of the Liguilla zone soon.
The first half started with the surprise of the return of Pumas defender Nicholas Freire to the starting lineup after going out injured in their last game against Chivas. Meanwhile for Leon, Luis Montes was out injured. The game was very even and it took a pair of called back goals for it to start. First Ismael Sosa got the ball behind the Pumas defense and he scored but it was ruled offside. Then after a corner kick, Carlos Gonalez got the ball down and Freire scored but it was ruled that Gonzalez got the ball down with his arme.
Suddenly, Leon got more of the ball, and through the right, Mena had a couple of chances. But it was Pumas who broke the deadlock when Alan Mozo combined with Gonzales, lobbing it over Leon’s keeper Rodolfo Cota to score the 1-0.
Juan Iturbe made a great play that forced a Leon defender to knock him downs inches from the area. Then after a missed play, Jose Juan Macias hit a rocket off of the left foot and tied the game 1-1. It was a center of the play and Pumas had intercepted, but in an attempt to clear the ball they gave the ball to Macias, who was able to get his goal.
It should have been a 2-1 for Leon when Macias made a great play in the area; Mena was wide open but sent it into the post in an incredible miss. In the final minutes of a the first half, a Leon attacker forced Alfredo Saldivar to make a save. At halftime Pumas had held on but Leon had been the better team.
The second half started with once again Leon taking control of the match just like at the end of the first half. Pumas did have a couple of opportunities that both fell to Pablo Barrera, who sent them straight to the keeper. Then off a corner kick (that Pumas player claimed wasn’t as it had come off Moreno), Macias headed it back to Mena, who lowered the ball right into the path of William Tesillo to score from near range.
After the goal, Pumas tried to come back but weren’t having much luck with their attacks. Trying to be more offensive, coach Michel subbed out left back Jeison Angulo for forward Felipe Mora. Later on, another substitution baffled when Gonzalez got subbed out for Martin Rodriguez.
In the next play after the substitution, Mena scored a great goal but it was correctly ruled as offside. Moments later, a great cross was terribly headed by Mora, who wasted what was the best chance to tie the game for Pumas.
The Universitarios continued to attack and a cross by Barrera had a good chance but a Leon defender got to it and cleared it. In the other half, Yairo Moreno forced Saldivar to make a diving save. Later, it was Fernando Navarro who made a lob over Saldivar and it went wide.
Pumas continued having the ball but without Gonzalez, they never really threatened and thus suffered their second home loss of the season.
After a great home record, Pumas’ loss to Leon brings a lot of doubts back to Pumas’ fans. They didn’t have an easy test, but at home they’d had a great season and improved a lot from their away games. It all went out the window when Leon were superior in almost every aspect of the field. Worse yet are the doubts about the coaching capacity of Michel, who were a huge part of the loss. The subbing out of Carlos Gonzalez was a head scratcher, and ultimately a failure of a decision. Without Gonzalez, Pumas’ attack was non existent. It obvious that both Chilean players for Pumas (Felipe Mora and Martin Rodriguez) are having terrible seasons. To sub them on as the offensive response showed the lack of quality on the bench. Neither of them made much of an impact, and Mora wasted the best chance for Pumas. Meanwhile, Leon continue to show that they are for real, and the win might be the boost they need to climb into a better Liguilla position.
Pumas will now have a tough visit next week to Queretaro, while Leon should be favored at home against Atletico San Luis. The future looks bright for them and dark for Pumas.