FC Juarez and Pumas had a wild time as they ended up with a 4-4 tie in the first game of the new Liga MX Thursday night. Pumas had a horrific first half that had them losing at one point by 3-1, but a mistake by goalkeeper Ivan Vasquez Mellado gave them a lifeline that they almost took to a win. Yet another defensive mistake from Pumas’ end gave Juarez the tie in their first home game of the season. The game was very exciting for neutral fans, but both teams fan will lament losing the three points in this game when both were so close to get them (Juarez in the first half and Pumas in the second). Both teams will have action from Copa MX next week, and then Pumas will travel home to face Monterrey while Juarez stays in Ciudad Juarez for their Liga MX match against Morelia.
The game began with Pumas having the same starting lineup as they had in their last game against Pachuca. Pumas initially was more attacking in play, although Juarez started countering well. Then in a good combination play from the home team in their first truly dangerous play, Juarez opened the scoring. A terrible mistake allowed Mauro Fernandez to go alone through the left side and get the ball. He then found a wide open Dario Lezcano in the area for the tap in goal and the 1-0 lead. Pumas responded quickly, and a great pass from Favio Alvarez found a running Juan Pablo Vigon, who scored it past goalkeeper Ivan Vasquez for the 1-1.
But then in the next play, off a rebound off the corner kick, another mistake from Alejandro Mayorga allowed Lezcano to head the ball past Pumas keeper Alfredo Saldivar for the 2-1 lead. Pumas’ joy was less than a minute old. Juarez came close to scoring the third when Gustavo Vealsquez was wide open on a corner kick but his header went wide. But after the play the referee went to VAR and thought Mayorga had pulled on Diego Rolan and awarded a penalty kick. Rolan took the penalty kick and scored it past Saldivar for the 3-1, and Mayorga continued his nightmare of a game.
Juarez kept the pressure on as Pumas crumbled. Saldivar was forced to make a save from a free kick. Juarez had a great opportunity when Lezcano once again was alone in the area, but Saldivar took the ball from his feet.
Vasquez Mellado then gave Pumas a lifeline when he made a terrible mistake that gave Pumas a goal. Andres Iniestra got a long range shot that took a deflection but still should have been an easy save, but Mellado failed to stop the ball and it went through his arms for the 3-2. The goal lifted Pumas and they pressured in the final minutes of the first half, including a corner kick that was almost headed into a second play. Juarez however held on, and Pumas went to halftime trailing by a goal.
The second half started with Pumas going for it again, and it didn’t take long for it to pay off. Iniestra made a good cross in the area and found Favio Alvarez, who got off a great volley past Mellado for the 3-3 tie. Then off a free kick, Pumas got the lead for the first time in the game. Pablo Barrera took it and send a great cross into the area, and Carlos Gonzalez rose strongly to get to the ball and head it past Mellado for the 4-3. It looked like Pumas had added another one when Barrera went alone against the keeper and placed a shot past him but it was ruled offside.
While Pumas was dominated, a big mistake allowed Juarez to tie the game. Off a counter attack, Juarez got off a cross that Luis Quintana tried to clear but left the ball there for Brian Rubio, who had just been subbed in a minute before. Rubio got to the ball and wad able to get his left footed shot past Saldivar for the 4-4.
Juarez went up front and came close to scoring, but the play was ruled offside. Pumas almost had a similar play that the one from Juarez fourth goal, but Sebastian Saucedo’s shot went wide. It was Saucedo’s last chance as he got subbed out for Bryan Mendoza.
In the final minutes, Pumas had a great counter but Gonzalez decided to shoot when he had a better option in the middle with Barrera and Mendoza, and his shot went wide. Pumas had a great opportunity for the win, but that proved to be the last good opportunity for both teams and the game ended in a tie.
Both Pumas and Juarez will be kicking themselves. Juarez seemed to have the game in control with a 3-1 lead at home, but Mellado’s mistake gave Pumas the momentum and they almost got the loss. Meanwhile Pumas continue their pattern from last season when they had a great record at home but a lousy one on the road. Not getting the win after fighting back and getting the lead is a disappointment. Also worrisome for Pumas is the fact that left back Alejandro Mayorga had a nightmare of a game, and he had to be subbed out at halftime for Ignacio Malcorra. Pumas will need to bounce back as they face their Round of 16 Copa MX first leg in Torreon against Santos. Meanwhile Juarez will also travel for their first leg Round of 16 game in Queretaro.