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Pumas come back to grab point in Copa MX debut

Pumas came back for a disappointing first half to get the tie in their Copa MX debut against Atletico San Luis.

Pumas and Atletico San Luis start their Copa MX campaign
Rafael Hernandez

Pumas came back from a disappointing first half to get back a point, getting a 1-1 draw against Atletico San Luis in both teams’ start of their Copa MX campaigns. With both of them having the typical Copa MX lineups of youngsters along with second team veteran players, Pumas and Atletico gave inspired performances at times but also suffered from the lack of experience both sides had. Atletico San Luis will be inspired of being able to get an away point, although they will look back on having the lead and control of the match and letting it get away. Pumas on the other hand will have to look back negatively on their gift of a first half and losing two points at home, but will be happy on their resilience in the second half.

On a cold summer night (because of heavy rains two hours before the game started) Pumas and the fans expected to have a good start in Copa MX. Still, like many games in Ciudad Universitaria, it was a pretty even match. Pumas’ forward line of Felipe Mora and Martin Barragan seemed to struggle, although Pumas as a whole looked off and a little lethargic, which Atletico San Luis seemed to take advantage of.

Pumas had the first opportunity when Martin Rodriguez made a great play, but his cross was headed wide by Barragan. It would be Atletico San Luis who opened the scoring in their first real chance of the game. Off a corner kick, a terrible mistake from Pumas’ defense allowed Ricardo Centurion to find himself open to head the ball for the 1-0. Four Pumas defenders as well as Pumas goalkeeper Miguel Angel Fraga all missed Centurion, and the result was Pumas trailing early on.

San Luis came close to making 2-0 when Fraga once again made a mistake coming out for a ball, and Centurion headed it inches from the left post.

Pumas gained more possession but outside of a Felipe Mora shot that was almost deflected to a goal, but Pumas didn’t really threaten in a very poor attempt at a comeback in the first half.

The second half started with Pumas subbing on Juan Manuel Iturbe for a very disappointing Martin Barragan. Iturbe’s impact was felt almost immediately when he combined with Martin Rodriguez to make a play that was almost finished by Mora, but Atletico’s goalkeeper Axel Werner made an almost miraculous stop from near range. Unfortunately after a foul, Rodriguez got injured and had to leave the game. Pablo Barrera came on for Rodriguez, and Barrera would go on to have a good performance as a sub.

Felipe Mora had another chance, but once again hit his shot straight to Werner. Pumas continued to dominate as Atletico San Luis started to falter. Pumas made another key sub when they sent 17-year-old Amaury Garcia to make his debut with the Pumas first team.

A minute after the sub, Barrera made a great run in the area to find Felipe Mora with his cross. Mora made a header that forced Werner to make a great save. Werner was having a great game, but he almost made a mistake when he failed to hold on to a cross and bounced it off a San Luis defender, but luckily for him it fell to a corner kick instead of into his net.

Minutes later a great combination play between Alan Mendoza and Iturbe ended with the pass in the area to Amaury Garcia, whose left footed shot went in to tie the game 1-1. Five minutes into his debut with Pumas, Garcia had made his name as an interesting prospect with a goal to tie a tough match.

Off of a free kick, Kevin Escamilla made a great shot that just went wide from the left post. The last minutes should have been all Pumas, but Atletico San Luis had a good strategy and kept the ball, making Pumas not have any dangerous chances after the Escamilla free kick and holding on for the 1-1 tie.

Pumas’ debut in Copa MX might not have been the best result, but they must feel happy with the effort in the second half, as well as the play of some of their young players, especially Amaury Garcia. They will stay in Mexico City for their Liga MX match at home against current champions Tigres, their toughest test so far this season. Meanwhile, Atletico San Luis will return home and as they have the week off in Liga MX, they will be playing a friendly against their big brothers Atletico Madrid on Saturday in what should be one of the biggest events this year for them.