Leon got a convincing 3-1 win over a Pumas team that once again had defensive troubles, especially from their goalkeeper Alfredo Saldivar. In a game without fans because of the federation prohibiting the attendance in all the games to cope with health officials plans to fight COVID-19, Leon once again proved their recent dominance over Pumas and the lack of fanfare was no problem for them. Pumas meanwhile will have to answer a lot of questions about their recent defensive struggles especially in goalkeeper, where once again Saldivar was key in the result just as he had been in the games against Morelia and America. Leon will now have a tough visit to America while Pumas will get the visit to Tijuana, once Mexican football returns to action after the COVID-19 emergency ends.
Without fans, the game started in an empty stadium. Once again Pumas came out with the forward pair of Carlos Gonzalez and Juan Ignacio Dinenno. Leon quickly took control of the game and had various close chances. Then after a giveaway, Leon took advantage of a slip from Alejandro Mayorga to go three on one. A cross to Armando Leon, was deflected by Luis Quintana straight to Leon’s Fernando Navarro. Navarro got a left footed shot past keeper Alfredo Saldivar for the 1-0 lead. Leon was justified in their lead for showing so much dominance.
Leon continued to have chances, especially through the left side where Mayorga was having a bad performance. Pumas came close for the first time when a free kick by Ignacio Malcorra was saved by Leon’s keeper Rodolfo Cota. Then against a couple of minutes later after an offensive play was cut by Leon’s defense, Carlos Gonzalez got a left footed shot from outside the area and it caught Cota flat footed and it went in the lower corner for the 1-1 equalizer. Pumas had barely started to get their offense going and they had tied in their second play.
Leon almost answered immediately when off a free kick, Pedro Aquino got a free header but it went just wide. Then off a cross in the area, incredibly Saldivar didn’t went to cross it, surprise Johan Vasquez and allowing Angel Mena to get to the ball and get the lead once again.
Then in a long ball forward found Navarro alone in the area, but Saldivar came out clumsily to drop Navarro and get the ball. The ref went to VAR and rightly called it a penalty kick. Angel Mena took the penalty and sent it sky high to the stands, giving Pumas a lifeline. Leon had to sub out Navarro because of an injury during Saldivar’s mistake. In the final minutes, Leon had another chance but Mena’s shot was saved by Saldivar. The halftime whistle blew and Pumas was lucky to only be down 2-1.
The second half started with Pumas making two substitutions. They subbed out Pablo Barrera for Favio Alvarez and Alejandro Mayorga for Sebastian Saucedo. The game turned a little more even, with neither team having clear chances. Leon then had a great chance when Mena went alone in the area, but his cross was cleared by a defender. Leon then had another chance but Armando Leon got the ball taken off his feet by Vasquez. Leon made a sub by taking out Jose Gonzalez for Joel Campbell, and the Costa Rican attacker didn’t take long to start attacking. Campbell had a great chance against Saldivar, but he fell controlling the ball. Pumas made their last substitution by taking out Leonel Lopez for Bryan Mendoza, but the changes didn’t help Pumas much. Leon looked to have scored after a rebound by Saldivar but it was correctly ruled offside. Leon had another chance when Aquino had a shot in the area but Vasquez made a great clearance. Leon had a great chance of a counter, but Armando Leon’s shot went wide. Pumas almost answered back but the defense was able to clear it in the last third. Leon came close again when Jean Meneses had a shot that just went wide and out of reach of Armando Leon. The in the final minutes, Ismael Sosa got a ball in the area and place it past Saldivar for the deserved 3-1 win. Leon held on for the win and Pumas was soundly defeated.
Leon looks to have dropped their slump of play that included elimination in the Concacaf Champions League and a bad loss to Chivas where they were dominated. It took a substitution from Joel Campbell in their game against FC Juarez for things to change. They were overly superior to Pumas, and took advantage of their numerous mistakes and climbed to first place.
Pumas meanwhile had the return of their defensive struggles. The big question mark is the terrible mistakes from their goalkeeper Saldivar. After being the villain in their tie against America, Saldivar once again had an awful game. He contributed to one goal and would have it been two when he gifted Leon a penalty kick they failed to convert. Pumas will need to answer the questions of their defense especially in goalkeeper as soccer is a sport where the position is key to do something, and Saldivar doesn’t look to be there mentally at the moment.