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Pumas rise to the top after thrilling victory in Toluca

Pumas came back twice to get a 3-2 victory away to Toluca and climb to first place in Liga MX.

FBL-MEX-TOLUCA-PUMAS Photo by ROCIO VAZQUEZ/AFP via Getty Images

Pumas has their best performance of the season as they twice came back to beat Toluca and grab their first away win by a score of 3-2. Pumas had to bounce back from Toluca scoring before the first minute of play had even finished, and with a great performance got the better of a tough Toluca team. Toluca once again played better than the result showed, but Pumas fought them well while Toluca couldn’t get past problems from constant offside and a woeful game from Alexis Canelo. After Leon’s loss to Atletico San Luis, Pumas now climbs to first place, and will face a tough match at home against Morelia while Toluca will stay at home for their second leg Copa MX match against Pachuca before traveling for an away game in Liga MX play against Puebla.

The game started as quick as a game could when Pumas got surprised 19 seconds in. A long ball took Pumas by surprise, and Alexis Canelo and Emmanuel Gigliotti went for the ball. Canelo faked out goalkeeper Alfredo Saldivar and Gigliotti got to the ball, scoring into a wide open goal. Toluca continued with some possible attacks, but Pumas responded with a good chance when Favio Alvarez got a left footed shot that goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera stopped. Things got feisty when Alejandro Mayorga and Luis Hernandez clashed during a foul and both got yellow cards. Later it was Alan Mozo who got a yellow card and it looked like desperation was starting to get to Pumas. Pumas came close to scoring on a corner kick when Carlos Gonzalez’ header just went wide. Pumas came close again when a cross by Mozo almost went in after Talavera tried to grab the cross before a Toluca defender cleared it. On the ensuing corner kick, it looked like Marco Garcia got brought down in the area by Toluca Leonardo Fernandez. The call went to the VAR, and the referee gave the penalty kick. Pablo Barrera took it and placed the ball past Talavera to level the score at 1-1.

Toluca almost responded immediately, but Saldivar was able to make a save off the feet of Benito Pardo. Then Toluca took the lead when after a cross, the Pumas defense left the ball for a wide open Leonardo Ferandez. Fernandez got his left footed shot past Saldivar, and Pumas went down once again. There was a scare for Pumas when Canelo fell in the area, but it was correctly ruled as a dive. The rest of the half was split in possession, and it ended with a 2-1 lead for Toluca.

The second half started with Pumas going all into the attack. Toluca took advantage of this and had a great counter attack which had a three-on-two, and Fernandez got a left footed shot that Saldivar miraculously saved with his foot. Then off the free kick Saldivar made another great save off a header before a shot from Gigliotti hit the post and fell to Canelo, who wasted it wide. Pumas came close to going down two goals and needed to do something, so they subbed out Pablo Barrera for Juan Ignacio Dinenno. Off of a corner kick, Dinenno got a header on that went over Talavera and into the top corner off the net to again level the scoreline. For a second consecutive game, Dinenno scored within minutes of coming into the match. Toluca came close with a cross to the area that Canelo almost got to, but it was ruled offside. Toluca hit the post again off a header, but it was also ruled offside. Then Canelo had a great one-on-one against the keeper but after taking on and beating Saldivar, his shot went wide from a tough angle. Pumas then had a great chance when Alvarez found Gonzalez in the area, but his shot was saved by Talavera. Then in a great and strange play, Sebastian Saucedo made a move and went to cross. As he was crossing he slipped and ended up making a perfect cross for Dinenno, who got to volley it by Talavera for the 3-2 lead.

Toluca tried to attack and subbed out Canelo for Michael Estrada. Meanwhile Pumas countered by subbing out Alvarez for ex-Toluca player Leonel Lopez. Pumas came close in a corner, but Gonzalez’ header went wide. Pumas made their last sub by subbing out Saucedo for Juan Pablo Vigon, while Toluca subbed out ex-Pumas player Kevin Escamilla for Juan Gamboa. Off a free kick, Michael Estrada got to the ball and scored but he was correctly ruled offside. Then off another free kick Toluca once again got to the ball in the area, but once again it was ruled offside. Then after a terrible mistake from Andres Iniestra, Toluca got a free kick and Fernandez came close to scoring but his shot went wide. In injury time, Pumas had a great counterattack, but there was confusion and Dinenno ended up crashing the ball into Talavera. A minute after Toluca got another free kick that Fernandez sent wide. The ref took the ball and Pumas had their best victory of the season.

Pumas seemed to have made a statement against Toluca. They got an away win in Toluca, in a match that wasn’t played in the usual 12:00 PM heat because it was moved for Toluca’s Tuesday Copa MX match. It was a great game and Pumas came on top. They still showed some weakness especially in defending free kicks but they were just winners. The best news is the great impact that new signing Juan Ignacio Dinenno has had with the team. It’s up to coach Michel to see if we can finally see him from the start, and if he can combine for 90 minutes with Carlos Gonzalez.

Pumas now takes first place and will look to keep their home field advantage when they host Monarcas Morelia next Sunday. Toluca meanwhile gets another frustrating result at home. They showed good things, but must be kicking themselves over their abundant offside calls and how they wasted a couple of mistakes from Pumas defense, especially forward Alexis Canelo. They don’t have time to waste as they have to play on Tuesday for a chance to get to the Copa MX semifinals against Pachuca. They then face a Puebla side as the team seems to keep improving but that improvement is not shown on the scoreboard.