Tijuana got their season off on the right foot, overcoming an early goal by Puebla’s Christian Tabó to win 3-1 on the road. Goalkeeper Gibran Lajud played in his 100th game for the club, and newcomers Washington Camacho and Ángel Sepúlveda scored in their first appearance in red and black.
Xolos would register the first shot of the evening when Ariel Nahuelpán was played in on a good flick on from Omar Mendoza. Nahuelpán had a rip from about 30 yards out that went high over Nicolás Vikonis’ net. In the eighth minute, there were echoes of the last game between the teams when Puebla thought there had been a handball in the box, but play did not stop and VAR was not consulted.
In the 11th minute, Miller Bolaños would play a flick on for Nahuelpán, who was in all alone. It was a footrace between him and Vikonis, one that Vikonis barely won.
In the 15th minute, Lucas Cavallini drove down the center of the pitch, drawing the defense. He played Christian Tabó out on the right, and Xolos goalkeeper Gibran Lajud came way off of his line to try and stop the Uruguayan, who dipped around the sliking goalkeeper and shot into an empty net to give the home side the early lead.
Se vale verlo una, y otra, y otra, y ooooooootra vez— Club Puebla (@ClubPueblaMX) July 20, 2019
Desde la cancha del Dos Veces Mundialista, así anotó Tabó el primer gol del Apertura 2019, el primero con #LaMásChingonaDeMx ⚪️ #LaFranjaQueNosUne pic.twitter.com/XnGCuqhr4S
Tijuana would waste no time trying to equalize. Xolos would continue to try and work the ball into the box, with Bolaños threading passes forward toward Nahuelpán and Camilo Sanvezzo to varying degrees of success. It would pay off when in the 24th minute Bolaños would find Nahuelpán, who hit a hard shot at Vikonis. Vikonis stopped the shot but gave up a rebound, which the onrushing Washington Camacho gladly hammered into the back of the net to equalize for the visitors.
Puebla almost pulled one back in the 29th when Tabó was again played in down the right and Lajud came out. This time he was able to push the ball away from Tabó, and the ball would eventually go out for a corner kick. Puebla played well defensively, collapsing into a compact shape when dispossessed to limit the passing lanes for Xolos to try and spring a counterattack. Xolos did well to adjust, looking to dribble through most of the traffic and passing only when the lane had been cleared.
Shortly after play resumed after the half, Omar Mendoza played a great ball over the top to Bolaños, who applied a deft touch to redirect it onto frame but Vikonis made a great save. A minute later, it would be another ball over the top to Bolaños out on the right that would be at the defense. Bolaños played it centrally to Nahuelpán, whose shot went just wide of the net.
Tijuana looked much more dangerous in the start of the second half, taking the game to Puebla who sat back on their heels a bit. Puebla would have a good chance in the 54th minute when Alejandro Chumacero was along the right side of the box played a ball back to Tabó, who fired a shot through traffic. Lajud made a diving save to punch the ball out.
In the 61st, Camacho would try his luck from distance but Vikonis saw it all the way and made the easy stop. Referee Luis Santander had a decent game, largely letting the teams play while not allowing things to spiral out of control. The ageless Matías Alustiza would enter the game in the 69th minute and try his luck from distance, however Lajud was able to make a solid save on the shot from “El Chavo”.
VAR would finally be consulted in the 76th minute on a free kick by Puebla. Lucas Cavallini was adjudged to have elbowed Omar Mendoza in the face, and was shown a yellow card accordingly. Shortly thereafter, Xolos would come down the field. Miller Bolaños along the right side would slip his defender and fire a cross into the box. The cross found the head of Nahuelpán, and Vikonis either slipped or was caught wrong-footed and couldn’t get to the shot in time to prevent giving up the lead to Los Xoloitzcuintles.
Xolos almost got another in the 83rd minute when Camacho played in a ball for Nahuelpán, but the onrushing forward just missed connecting with the ball. In the 86th, Brayan Angulo would hit a cross in from the end line that found the head of Jesús Zavala but the shot went just wide of the net. Two minutes later, Chumacero would try his luck from distance but Lajud was able to safely clutch the ball and fall onto it.
Just into additional time, Xolos would break through again when Nahuelpán was able to out-muscle Néstor Vidrio on a Gibran Lajud kick from the box, which allowed the ball to bounce to Ángel Sepúlveda. Sepúlveda was able to head the ball on goal, which had been vacated as Vikonis had come out to try and play Sepúlveda.
Next week Xolos will face the LA Galaxy in Los Angeles on Tuesday in the Leagues Cup before returning to Tijuana to host Querétaro on Saturday. Puebla meanwhile will be on a bye week next week. Their next match is Friday, August 2 when they host Chivas de Guadalajara.
Puebla: Nicolás Vikonis; Brayan Angulo, Néstor Vidrio, Daniel Arreola, Alejandro Chumacero; Omar Fernández (Matías Alustiza, 69’), Jesús Zavala, Rodolfo Salinas, Christian Tabó; Lucas Cavallini, Diego Abella (Christian Marrugo, 59’)
Tijuana: Gibran Lajud; Omar Mendoza, Julián Velázquez, Diego Braghieri, Leonel Miranda; Washington Camacho (Ángel Sepúlveda, 89’), Kevin Balanta, Ignacio Rivero; Camilo Sanvezzo (Luis Fuentes, 66’), Ariel Nahuelpán, Miller Bolaños (Fernando Arce, Jr., 81’)
Scoring: Puebla - Christian Tabó (15’); Tijuana - Washington Camacho (25’), Ariel Nahuelpán (77’), Ángel Sepúlveda (90+1’)
Disciplinary: Puebla - Lucas Cavallini (Yellow - 76’); Tijuana - None