With a last minute goal, Pumas won their third Copa MX game to win their group and officially qualify the knockout stages of the competition. Pumas took an early lead and dominated most of the game, but an unlucky injury to Alejandro Arribas forced the team to play with 10 men for the final minutes. In injury time, UdeG tied the game, but a minute after, Pumas got the winner to finish with 9 points and will now face Zacatepec in the Round of 16.
The first half began and it couldn’t have started better for Pumas. Four minutes in, Andres Iniestra shot a rocket from outside the area to open the score with a great goal. Iniestra has been playing well, but hadn’t shown much offensively so this is a promising thing.
Pumas continued to control the game, although Ude G almost went close when a bad back pass from the Pumas defense allowed a UdeG forward Adrian Villalobos to be 1 v 1 with the keeper. Fraga, however, was able to make the save.
UdeG’s keper Jorge Hernandez then made a good save off a Juan Manuel Iturbe shot, and later, Pumas should have increased the lead when Iturbe’s shot got saved by Hernandez and straight into Martin Rodriguez, whose shot was also saved by the keeper. The 1-0 score remained until halftime.
The second half continued with Pumas dominating the game but not doing enough with their domination. A Iturbe shot went wide and Alejandro Arribas arrived to meet a header, only to send the ball straight to the path of the keeper.
Pumas’ coach Bruno Marioni wanted to take all three points and subbed on star forward Carlos Gonzalez, in what was the third substitution of the game for Pumas, something that would be key minutes later.
U de Guadalajara forward Joaozinho went through the Pumas defense and looked to be going on a 1 on 1 play against goalkeeper Fraga when Arribas was able to get to the ball injuring himself in the process. He had to come out of the game leaving Pumas with 10 players for the rest of the game.
Although being down a man, Pumas still went forward and had the better chances of both teams, especially one by Martin Rodriguez who went all alone with the keeper but failed to dribble past him.
In injury time, it was U de G who tied the game when Carlos Baltazar made a great play through the Pumas defense and shot it past keeper Fraga.
A minute later, and with the game looking like it would end in a tie, Iturbe was finally able to score after fooling a defender and shooting it past Hernandez for the 2-1 final score.
While things looked almost set prior to this match (with Pumas only needing one point and U de G having a -4 goal average at the bottom of the group with only 3 points) Pumas took a positive step. Especially taking into account that it was a team mostly filled with young players. That said, Pumas fans and the coaching staff probably expected a better effort from the team after it took and early led and dominating large parts of the match.
Now, Pumas will concentrate on the knockout stage where they had a favorable and will face an Asenso MX team in the Round of 16. Should they win, they will face the winner of Dorados vs Atlas, which means it will be another Ascenso MX team or a group rival they have already beaten.