With a great game by Alfredo Talavera, Pumas was able to get a key away tie against Pachuca by a score of 1-1. Pumas climbed to third place with the result, although they still have a tough schedule ahead with games against Chivas and Cruz Azul. They are however closer to finishing in the Top Four, especially since fourth place America and fifth place Tigres face each other on Sunday. Pachuca meanwhile sits at a solid seventh place, and look guaranteed to make the repechaje.
The first half started with Pumas giving Facundo Waller his first start while also giving a start to returning Andres Iniestra. Carlos Gonzalez also returned to the starting lineup with Juan Iturbe returning to the bench. After a couple of very even minutes it looked like Pachuca came really close to scoring when Roberto de la Rosa headed the ball and hit the post, but the play was ruled to be offside. Later Pachuca did have their first chance when Erick Aguirre got a long range shot that forced Pumas’ keeper Alfredo Talavera to make a save. In the ensuing corner kick, Victor Davila got a wide open header but Talavera was able to save it. Pachuca was being the better team, but Pumas finally had a good opportunity when Pachuca lost the ball and allowed Juan Ignacio Dinenno to get to the ball and gave a pass to Juan Pablo Vigon, who took a shot that was saved by Pachuca’s keeper Oscar Ustari. Then in another counter, Gonzalez made a great pass to Favio Alvarez, who then took the ball and found Vigon, who this time had a low shot that went in under Ustari for the 1-0 lead.
While Pachuca had most of the possession, Pumas had been dangerous in their first chances. It looked like Pumas had improved, but in a terribly dumb mistake Dinenno made a clear push on Davila in the area and the ref gave a penalty kick to Pachuca. Davila stepped up to take it but his left footed shot was stopped by Talavera. Pachuca still kept at it with Talavera making a great save of a close range shot from De la Rosa. Pumas looked to be suffering but then in a counter attack, they came close again when a good cross by Waller got to Dinenno, but he failed to connect with it well and his header went wide. It looked like Pumas would be in the lead at halftime but in the final minutes, Erick Aguirre got a ball from outside the area and his shot got deflected into the net to even it up at 1-1 just before the end of the half.
The second half started with Pumas hoping to settle down while Pachuca hope to get the home win. Pachuca had a free kick that they sent into the area, and there was a clash between De la Rosa and Talavera that looked to have injured the goalkeeper. It took several minutes for him to get up and he looked dazed when he did but he remained in the game. After a couple of minutes of dominance by Pachuca, Victor Guzman seemed to be brought down by Facundo Waller and the ref gave him a straight red card. Replays showed that it wasn’t a red card offense and Guzman had fallen more after slipping because of the foul. The ref went to the VAR and rescinded the red card, instead giving out a yellow. Pumas came close to scoring when Waller made a good cross into the area and a Pachuca defender deflected the ball, forcing a close range save from Ustari. Pachuca had a great opportunity after Pumas made a big mistake in a free kick that gave them a three-on-two counter attack, but luckily for Pumas De la Rosa’s shot went wide. Pachuca then subbed out Erick Sanchez for Cristian Souza and De la Rosa for Francisco Figueroa. Pumas subbed in Juan Manuel Iturbe for Waller. Pumas almost made Pachuca pay for a mistake when they left a ball to Favio Alvarez and he lobbed it over Ustari, but also over the net. Had he done a better job, it would have been sure goal since Ustari was way up. Pumas came close again when Gonzalez rose to get to a cross but his header went wide. Pachuca subbed in Felipe Pardo and took out Davila as they tried to take advantage of Pumas’ struggles with the counter attacks. Pachuca came close again when a pass by Ismael Sosa almost got deflected right to Pardo but the defense was able to get to the ball and deflected into Talavera’s hands. Pachuca made their last move when Sosa was subbed out for Leonardo Ramos. After a dive by Alan Moza, Felipe Pardo fell in the area and there were calls for a penalty but it wasn’t given. Pumas then subbed out Andres Iniestra for Erik Lira. The last minutes had both teams trying to go on the attack, but neither was able to create a dangerous opportunity and the game ended in a very deserved tie.
While it wasn’t the best performance, Pumas got a good away result especially since there were many lackluster performances from some players. Alejandro Mayorga, Juan Ignacio Dinenno, and Andres Iniestra all played below average performances and Pachuca was able to get a lot of chances to counter. Also Pumas had the strategy to make second plays in every corner kick and free kick and those failed every time. Still they were able to get the point that places them over America in third place. They will hope to improve as they face Chivas in a game where they will be favored but it shouldn’t be as easy as many expect. Pachuca meanwhile will have to improve in many things especially on the offense, a problem they have had all season. They will have to travel to Tijuana to face a desperate team that has struggled and urgently needs the win before closing out the season against Necaxa. Although it’s an “easy” schedule, they seem to be to far behind to make any movement that takes them out of the Repechaje zone.