Pumas and Leon had their moments, but overall had a very even nervous game that ended in a 1-1 tie. Pumas will be kicking itself for getting a lead and having a player advantage but then wasting it by getting tied in the final minutes of the game. Leon will have the price of getting the away result after not playing particularly well, and will now be heavily favored at home. Pumas however showed they could compete and more than held their own against them. The return match will be on Sunday in Leon.
The first half started with the news that Pumas’ goalkeeper, Alfredo Talavera, couldn’t get back from his injury and once again Julio Gonzalez would start. After Leon started offensively, Pumas had the first chance when Juan Iturbe got the ball in the area, but his right footed shot went wide. It started a very even match with both teams looking nervous and making a lots of mistakes. It looked like Leon had a clear chance when Joel Campbell rose alone to head wide but he was ruled offside. Later Juan Ignacio Dinenno got into the area, but his shot was easily handled by Leon’s goalkeeper Rodolfo Cota. After Pumas lost a ball, Leon got the best opportunity when Luis Montes got a good left footed shot from outside the area that forced Gonzalez to make a good save. Slowly Leon started to get control of the game as Pumas started to falter, failing to get a hold of the ball. Pumas didn’t have an opportunity until Cota cleared the ball off a corner kick straight to Iturbe, whose right footed shot went wide. Leon had a clear chance when Angel Mena easily went past Alejandro Mayorga and got into the area, where he found Jean Meneses. Meneses had a clear opportunity, but his shot was terrible and blocked by a defender. Pumas best opportunity of the first half came in the final minute, when after a good combination play, Iturbe got a left footed shot that forced Cota to make his first great save of the game. Leon answered back and came close with a play that finished with a right footed shot from Angel Mena. The referee blew the halftime whistle, and both teams looked to be a little looser but still more nervous than usual.
The second half started with Leon subbing out Campbell for Emanuel Gigliotti. Pumas had the first chance in the second half when after a couple of ball bounces in the area, Andres Iniestra got a shot off that went wide. Leon answered with a play in the area that finished with Gonzalez diving in and swatting the ball off the feet from Meneses. A minute later Iturbe looked to have injured himself and he had to be taken out of the game, and Carlos Gutierrez was subbed in in his place. Leon almost came close again but once again Gonzalez came in, getting to the ball before Gigliotti. Pumas had a good opportunity after a great backheel by Dinenno found Juan Pablo Vigon, but his shot went well wide. After a foul on Vigon by Stiven Barreiro, Carlos Gonzalez pushed Barreiro, starting a tussle that ended with both of them getting yellow cards. Leon subbed out Ivan Rodriguez for Jose Ramirez. Then after Leon lost the ball with a great play by Vigon, Pumas countered and a great Carlos Gutierrez cross found Carlos Gonzalez, who headed the ball past Cota for the 1-0 lead for the hosts.
Leon tried to answer back and looked to have scored with a Jean Meneses shot, but it was correctly ruled to be offside. After that play, Leonel Lopez looked to have injured and had to come out of the game. Erik Lira was subbed in for him. After a couple of minutes of Leon having the most possession, Barreiro stepped on Andres Iniestra’s foot and was given a second yellow card and thus sending Leon down to ten players. Leon immediately subbed out Meneses for defender Juan Ignacio Gonzalez. Pumas subbed out Carlos Gonzalez for Jeronimo Rodriguez, understandable in that Gonzalez had a yellow but not much in that he subbed in a defender. Then after a terrible play by Alan Mozo, Jose Ramirez was able to get the cross and Gigliotti got into it, sending the ball past Gonzalez for the 1-1 equalizer. Leon made a final move by subbing out Fernando Navarro for Jesus Godinez. Pumas tried to attack but Leon did well in the final minutes and the game ended in a tie.
While Leon was heavily favored, Pumas rose to the occasion and had a very even match where they could have been seen as the slightly better team. Yet Leon was always a dangerous side and with the more experienced team, at times held their nerves better than the younger Pumas. Pumas will need to step up in the return leg in a tough hurdle they will face, with the veteran players like Carlos Gonzalez and Dinenno needing to play well from the start. Leon meanwhile will also need to improve but they should do better at home and continue to be the favorite for the title. It should be an interesting match but it could be just as even as the one they played tonight.