Pumas got their second win of the season as they dominated reigning Liga MX champions Monterrey, winning by a score of 1-0. Once again Pumas showed themselves to be one of the best home teams, as they dominated a Monterrey team who suffered physically all game under the noon Mexico City sun. Pumas was the better team, holding Monterrey to not having a single good chance in the first half before finishing them off in the second half. Pumas will now have an all Santos week, as they face Los Guerreros at home in midweek for their return leg in Copa MX (where they are trailing 4-2) and then travel back to Torreon for their Liga MX match. Monterrey will go back home for two matches, playing their return leg against Celaya and a Liga MX match against Queretaro at El Gigante de Acero.
The game started as Pumas came out with the same lineup it had played in their previous game. The team appeared cautious, knowing they had the current Liga MX champions in front of them. Pumas had the first clear chance when Favio Alvarez had a wide open header off a corner kick, but incredibly his shot went wide. Minutes later, Alvarez would get another good chance with another header but this time he hit the post. Then on a clash in the area, Carlos Gonzalez fell and it looked like he hurt himself by falling awkwardly on his arm but he was able to continue. Pumas still controlled the game, and Monterrey didn’t have a good chance until Rodolfo Pizarro had a run just cut by the Pumas defense. Pumas had another chance when Sebastian Saucedo made a good move, but his cross was cleared. In the final minute Alvarez had a great long range shot that forced Monterrey’s keeper Marcelo Barovero to make a great save. The first half ended with Pumas controlling the match, although not creating as much danger for the amount of possession they had.
The second half started, and it didn’t take long for Monterrey to had a chance when Rogelio Funes Mori almost went one-on-one against Alfredo Saldivar, but the Pumas goalkeeper took the ball off Funes Mori’s feet. Then Pumas had their first chance of the half when a Gonzalez shot went wide. Monterrey subbed out Rodolfo Pizarro in the 55th minute, who according to reports threw a tantrum because of it. Monterrey got another good chance when Vicent Janssen (who was subbed in for Pizarro) got a left footed shot that Sadivar saved. Pumas then had the best chance of the game to that point when Alvarez hit a shot that was saved by Barovero. The rebound was in front a wide open net but Johan Vasquez made too slow a move to get to the ball, and it was cleared by the Monterrey defense. Even though Vasquez is a defender, it was unforgivable for him to get so slowly to the ball. Pumas came close once again when a Pablo Barrera shot was deflected and almost went in before going out for a corner kick. Off of the corner kick the ball fell to Andres Iniestra, whose shot went wide in a bad miss as he should have done better in the area. Pumas finally got on the scoreboard in the 75th minute when Alan Mozo made a run into the area and his cross found Gonzalez. Gonzalez back heeled it from close range into Barovero, but his rebound crashed into Juan Pablo Vigon who tapped it in for the 1-0. Minutes later, it looked like Monterrey had scored when Janssen headed it past Saldivar but he was correctly ruled offside. With Pumas having the lead they started to control the ball, probably counting that Monterrey looked out of it physically. Monterrey had a great chance when Funes Mori got into the area with the ball, but he crashed into Saldivar and allowed Pumas to clear the ball. Pumas subbed out Favio Alvarez and got in Juan Antonio Dinenno for his Pumas debut in the same week he signed. The final minutes had Pumas controlling the ball, and in the end they got the win with Monterrey severely lacking in their performance.
Pumas gave one of their best games in recent time as they dominated the current champions at home. This win is part of a pattern during coach Michel’s turn, as Pumas have been dominating at home and making their noon Sunday start time count, something that past Pumas teams were famous for. Monterrey meanwhile seems to be struggling because of their lack of preseason, having played the Liga MX Final on December 29th after their third-place showing in the Club World Cup in Qatar. It would have been a tough match for them regardless, but the lack of spirit shown as time went by seems to be a cause of it.
Pumas now will have to try to see if their home field advantage counts at night when they host the return leg of their Copa MX match against Santos. They are trailing by a 4-2 score, and will face a Santos team that is already in Mexico City since they played against Cruz Azul. Pumas will be invigorated because of the win against Monterrey and because Santos lost badly against Cruz Azul 3-0. Meanwhile Monterrey will need to pick it up, although they have a 4-3 lead in Celaya and will be playing at home. Then they will have a game at home against Queretaro when they will look for their first win.