Pumas might have said goodbye to all possibilities to qualify to the Liguilla after losing away to Puebla. After a good start in the game, Pumas faded quickly and gave a dispirited performance in the second half, in which coach Bruno Marioni looked to not have any answers as they never came close to getting the victory after halftime. Pumas might now need to pay all their attention to the Copa MX where they are in the Semifinals, although they might still give it a go in their next home game against Chivas de Guadalajara. On the other hand, Puebla moves right in thick of things, being temporarily in Liguilla territory waiting for the weekend results.
The first half started with some controversy when it looked like Luis Quintana handled a ball in his area but a penalty wasn’t called. After the play, Pumas started taking control of the match and came close to scoring when Felipe Mora should have reacted quicker to a ball in the area, but he took too much time and Nestor Vidrio slid and deflected his shot.
In the ensuing corner kick, Victor Malcorra looked to have scored, but in the second controversial play, it was called back for offside by Juan Manuel Iturbe. While Iturbe was offside, the ball went through the other direction of the keeper and it wasn’t clear that he was obstructing or a participant in the play to cause the goal to be ruled offside.
Pumas continued to dominate, and Carlos Gonzalez came close to scoring a great goal after going through a couple of Puebla defenders but his shot was blocked by Puebla’s goalkeeper Nicolas Vikonis.
Against the run of play, Puebla had the best opportunity of the game when a Vladimir Loroña cross found a wide open Omar Fernandez, who skied his shot.
In the last minutes of the half, Puebla came alive and Matias Alustiza had a great opportunity to score against his old team, but Pumas keeper Alfredo Saldivar saved the shot.
The second half continued with Puebla’s dominance, and it didn’t take long for them to make their mark. After a cross that Saldivar misjudged, Lucas Cavallani was able to beat Pumas defender Alejandro Arribas to head the goal into the net for the 1-0.
After the goal, Puebla went close again when an Alustiza long range shot was saved by Saldivar.
As time went by, Puebla started to sit back but Pumas offered almost no danger upfront. Pumas then subbed on Martin Rodriguez and David Cabrera, but neither offered much on offense and the team looked flat on the attack. Pablo Barrera went pass a couple of defenders and had his shot saved by Vikonis, in what turned out to be Pumas’ only dangerous opportunity in the second half. Puebla eventually held on as Pumas faded to conquer the three points.
The loss to Puebla probably seals Pumas’ season in terms of getting to the Liguilla. Under coach Marioni, Pumas has looked very uneven and have been on a downward trend ever since beating America. It seemed to be that the goal of beating America might have made the team a little complacent and they haven’t gotten back to that level since. Pumas might turn to the Copa MX where they are in the Semifinals, although they have benefited from a draw that has had them facing only Ascenso MX teams in the knockout rounds, something that will end if they get to the Final.
Puebla, on the other hand, has improved since their new coach Jose Luis Sanchez Sola arrived. They are now in Liguilla territory and should benefit from a calendar in which they will next face two of the easier teams this seasons in Lobos BUAP and Morelia.