Pumas got back from being a man down against the the league leaders to get a point, in new coach Bruno Marioni’s first league game. A good start by Pumas got totally upended when Pumas went down a man and then got scored in the free kick from that same play. In the second half, Monterrey dominated and looked close to scoring a second, but at the same time, they looked passive in putting the game away. Then in the final minutes, a great play by Carlos Gonzalez and a mistake by Monterrey’s keeper Marcelo Barovero, resulted in a play that gave Pumas the draw. Although the result was just a point, Pumas fans must be satisfied in what was their best performance of 2019.
Pumas had a tough game in what was Bruno Marioni’s debut. Monterrey was not only on top of the league but they have one of the best squads in Mexico. That said, Pumas came out playing well in a tight match.
The good start soon went away when Luis Quintana brought Funes Mori down outside the area and got red carded. While it had been called a yellow, the ref got a call and decided on the red card because of him being the last man, since the foul wasn’t at all a red card material besides that ruling. To make matters worse, off the ensuing free kick, Dorlan Pabon scored. The Pumas wall got distracted by Jesus Gallardo’s backheel pass to Pabon and it opened up allowing Pabon’s thunder shot through.
Although Pumas force a long range shot save from Barovero, it was clear that Monterrey had control of the game.
The second half had Pumas looking as having accepted their fate, while Monterrey dominated the game. But for all their dominance, they looked too passive and not willing to put away the game for good. Twice Rogelio Funes Mori had great opportunities that he failed with, the first one allowing a Pumas defender too clear a ball and the other for Pumas’ keeper Alfredo Saldivar to make a great save.
Rodolfo Pizarro also came close to scoring but his lob went wide. For Pumas it was only through free kicks that they came close, albeit they were valiantly fighting and also maintaining the score just 1-0.
Off a free kick, the ball was headed to defender Pablo Jaquez, who couldn’t control it and fell just as he tried to kick the ball before it was cleared.
Carlos Gonzalez had a great chance but his header went wide, as Pumas looked closer than ever to grabbing the equalizer after going down a man. Then the key play of the game happened. Gonzalez pressured keeper Barovero, who lost the ball. Gonzalez then passed the ball back to Martin Rodriguez before eventually arriving to Juan Manuel Iturbe. From outside the area, Iturbe sent a long range shot that deflected off Celso Ortiz (who had started the play with his back pass to Barovero) and into the net for the tie. A dejected Monterrey team, that possibly thought had the game in the bag, then had some of the ball but never came close to scoring. One the other hand, Pumas did well in getting the draw and having as much possession as Rayados for those final minutes.
While earning a draw might not have been the result that Pumas was looking for, the point definitely felt like a win for them and their fans. The man down situation made a tough situation a lot worse and Pumas rose to it. It must be the best Pumas performance of 2019 and it’s a great start for Marioni at the helm of Pumas.
Meanwhile, this is a bad result for Monterrey. After getting the first place spot, Monterrey might have thought they were set to cruise in this game. Yet their effort after going a man up was lackluster. It seemed they were comfortable with the 1-0 lead and they never went for the kill, and it cost them.
Monterrey will now return home for a supposedly easier match against Lobos BUAP, while Pumas will travel to Queretaro to face a team that has lost all their league games but are coming back from a spirited performance against America.