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Pumas prevail against Potros UAEM in tough Copa MX battle

Pumas overcame injuries, wet conditions, and mistakes to get a 1-0 win over Potros UAEM

Pumas and Potros UAEM stand for the Copa MX protocol before the start of their match.
Rafael Hernandez

Pumas came through a number of obstacles to clinch its first win in the Copa MX by a score of 1-0 over Potros UAEM in their second (and last) home game in the group stage of the Copa MX. Pumas had to overcome an injury to their starting goalkeeper, a nervous, a spirited Potros UAEM, and a very strong rainfall to get the win. In a game which many expected a better performance from Pumas, they were still able snap a three-game winless streak. Still, Pumas will have to improve in the Copa MX and will need to do so without any more home games. The win doesn’t even give Pumas the lead in the group, as Atletico San Luis remains in first place with a better goal differential. Pumas will now turn it’s vision to Liga MX play where they will face Veracruz on Sunday, hoping to continue Tiburones Rojos’ streak of 30 games without a victory.

Pumas pressured from the start. A minute into the game, Martin Rodriguez and Alan Mendoza combined with a play through the left side of Potros UAEM and it finished with a cross that the keeper Alejandro Vences almost bobbled right to the Pumas attack. Pumas continued to control the possession but without creating as much danger as expected.

Pumas had a great opportunity when Juan Iturbe had a clear run at goal, but Vences was barely able to beat him to the ball in what would have been a wide open chance for Iturbe had Vences gotten to it just a second later. Once again Iturbe had another great opportunity in the area, but this time a defender was able to slide and take the ball off his feet.

Potros had its first opportunity when a counter attack almost found a man in the area before Pumas defender Pablo Jaquez cleared the ball.

In what was the best opportunity of the first half, Felipe Mora got wide open off a corner kick and got a good header that Vences made a great save with.

In the final minute of the half, a play ended up being game-changing when a reckless decision finished with an awful clash between Ricardo Pires and Pumas goalkeeper Miguel Angel Fraga. The ref blew the whistle after the crash but both players had to come out at halftime because of their injuries.

Pumas started the second half with substitute keeper Jose Castillo coming in for Fraga. In the first play of the half, Iturbe got fouled after a run, setting up a Pumas free kick. Alan Mendoza took the free kick and scored a beautiful goal off of the top corner to put the score 1-0.

Pumas had taken the deserved lead, and the future looked good for a good result for the home team. Pumas looked to have added another one when Brian Figueroa was left alone in the area and got off a shot that went in, but it was ruled offside. A Pumas player had to jump over the ball and it was the correct call.

As the game continued, a heavy rain started to fall in the stadium. With the game seemingly in control, a pass by Jose Miguel to keeper Castillo ended with him clearing it straight to a Potros player, who made the mistake of crossing the ball and giving it back.Still, it was a sign of things to come as Castillo would continue to look nervous.

In what later turned out to be the best chance of the second half for Pumas, Iturbe got a pass in the area but his shot went wide almost from near range.

After a good long ball that a Potros player couldn’t control, it looked like Pumas was starting to have trouble. Castillo once again got pressured and almost gifted a corner kick by mis-hitting a pass (it turned to just be a throw-in). The rain continued to fall at a stronger pace every minute and the field started to get very slippery, something that would hurt the host team in taking control of the possession. After another great long ball, Castillo went to try to cut the ball and did a terrible job of doing so, gifting it to a Potros player, but his shot was too weak and the Pumas defense was able to get to the line and clear the shot, saving Pumas from a terrible mistake by Castillo.

Castillo’s nervous performance was starting to infect others, and Pumas started to show a lot of weakness. Potros became the team that started to gain control of the possession as they looked for the tying goal. Pumas continued to struggle against a desperate Potros UAEM who had their best chance of the game when Juan Carlos Camarena went past his defender and send a cross to a wide open Raul Zuñiga, who missed a sitter when he whiffed on his shot.

After another shot by a Potros player, Pumas finally had a chance when Pablo Barrera took a free kick and Vences had to punch the ball clear because of the wet conditions. While Potros continued to fight, Pumas were able to held on and beat Potros UAEM as well as the bad conditions.

Pumas might not have pleased their fans with a one goal win over at home against an Ascenso team, but they got the result that they really needed. With no more home games, Pumas needed the three points to continue with possibilities to get to the knockout stages of the Copa MX. While their performance wasn’t as good as past performances, they did have numerous obstacles to conquer. When the conditions of the field were storm-like, Pumas was the better team and dominated possession. Pumas also ends a two-game losing streak and a three-match winless streak. With the three points, Pumas will now have to turn to Liga MX, where they face a Veracruz team that have a 30 game winless streak.