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Pumas crush a 10 man Atlas to get back into the Liguilla race

Pumas beats Atlas 5-1 at home after a great second half performance.

Pumas UNAM v Atlas - Torneo Apertura 2019 Liga MX Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images

After two disappointing losses, Pumas went back to their winning ways with a crushing 5-1 victory at home over Atlas. Pumas benefited when Atlas went down to 10 men after a red card, and in an incredible downpour, they played their most offensive game of the season and scored five. Pumas will now look into a key away game against a disappointing Puebla, who just ended Veracruz’ record setting streak of games without a win by losing to them 1-0. Atlas will have a key match at home against Atletico San Luis for a chance to get to the Liguilla.

The game started with Pumas being at home and desperately needing the points. As a result, they immediately went on the offense once the ref blew his whistle. Carlos Gonzalez was the first one to test Atlas’ keeper Camilo Vargas with a strong left footed shot in the area that was saved.

In the 10th minute, Gonzalez was going to open the scoring when Ignacio Malcorra made a run through the left side and made the pass to Gonzalez, who one-timed it with his left foot and scored the 1-0.

Pumas continued on top of Atlas, and Juan Iturbe came close after getting into the area but his right footed shot just went slightly wide. While Pumas kept attacking, Atlas had a chance when Jefferson Cuero almost connected in the area with Facundo Barcelo, but he was just inches from getting to the ball.

Next time Atlas wouldn’t waste their chance, and off a counter, the Cuero cross was connected by Jesus Isijara, who placed it past Pumas keeper Alfredo Saldivar for the 1-1 tie. For all of the Pumas attacks, Atlas tied the game in their second chance and it deflated Pumas.

Gonzalez made a great pass to a wide open Iturbe, but he missed the ball after taking the sight of it, wasting a great chance. Things almost took a tragic turn when Malcorra tried to make a cross and injured himself. Luckily he returned to the game and even had a good chance that was blocked by an Atlas defender. The halftime whistle blew and it looked like Pumas had wasted an opportunity.

The second half started and Pumas once again went into the attack. A minute into the half, Kevin Escamilla forced Vargas to make a save off a free kick. Pumas then seemed to get a huge break when Atlas’ Anderson Santamaria got his second yellow of the second half and thus was red carded after handling the ball.

Pumas tried to get offensive and take advantage by first subbed on Pablo Barrera and then Felipe Mora. In Mora’s first play, Barrera got a cross into this path and he connected to score it past Vargas for the 2-1.

Pumas had a great chance when Gonzalez got a ball and made a pass to Bryan Mendoza. He let it pass by him thinking it was another Pumas attacker, but it was an Atlas defender who cleared the ball. Then after a corner kick, Atlas defense cleared the ball straight to Pablo Barrera. Barrera got a shot off that Vargas stopped but he left it there for Nicolas Freire, who tapped it for a goal and the 3-1.

As a heavy downpour happened in the stadium, Pumas got a free kick. After a great trick play, Andres Iniestra found the ball in the area and as he slipped, he got off a shot past Vargas for the goal and the 4-1 lead.

Atlas tried for a final push but the game was out of reach by that time. After a cross by Mozo got deflected by Vargas into the net but the ball was ruled to have gone through the line. The ref went to VAR after the replay did look like the ball never left the area and he correctly ruled it was a goal. The score was 5-1 and it was the final play of the game.

While Pumas benefited immensely from Santamaria’s red card, they were the better team for most of the game and the Atlas equalizer had been against the run of play. Though Pumas is still not out of the shadows from their lackluster play this last two games, it might be an emotional boost that turn things around. They must take advantage of this as well as the leniency of the calendar as they face their final three games against Puebla, FC Juarez and Pachuca. While it’s not the toughest set of teams, two out of their three games will be away games and Pumas has solidly based its success at home. Atlas, meanwhile, seems to have kissed their Liguilla chances goodbye, since they only have two games left and one of them is away to Monterrey. This makes their Friday game at home against Atletico San Luis a must win, and it still might not be enough for them to make it to the Liguilla.