Pumas broke their streak of four straight ties by getting their best victory of the season, a 3-0 win over Tijuana. It was a very even match at times, but Pumas struck at decisive moments to get a win that culminated with what should be one of the better goals of the Apertura 2020 season. Although at times Xolos pressured them well, Pumas was able to get the three points that has them in second place of Liga MX. They will remain at home for their next week match against Puebla while Tijuana travels back home for a tough match against Monterrey.
The game started with the return of Carlos Gonzalez to the starting lineup for Pumas, but perhaps more notable was the return of Alejandro Mayorga. Mayorga had been positive for COVID-19 and had missed the majority of the season, so it was great news to see him return. At the start of the games, Pumas had the first two chances with shots from Juan Iturbe and Gonzalez; one went wide and the other was saved. Tijuana then had their first chance, and it was the closest of the game to that point. First a shot from Mauro Lainez was deflected into the corner kick. Then off the corner kick, the ball fell in the area and the shot from near range was saved by Pumas’ keeper Alfredo Talavera. Later on, Pumas answered and Juan Ignacio Dinenno got a ball in the area and made a great bicycle kick that was deflected by a Tijuana defender. Pumas came close again when off a corner kick, Dinenno headed the ball close but it went wide. Pumas had the best chance when Gonzalez went one-on-one with Tijuana’s keeper Jonathan Orozco, but his shot was terrible and it went wide. Tijuana then answered back with a terrible miss when Lainez went alone against the keeper but decided to pass instead of shoot and it went wide although replays showed that the linesman had blown an obvious offside. Then off of a free kick, Pumas made a great play that ended with the opening goal. Instead of crossing, Favio Alvarez found Johan Vasquez, who crossed the ball into the area and Carlos Gonzalez rose to head the ball past Orozco to make it 1-0 for the home side. Xolos tried to answer back and came close with a play in which Fabian Castillo should have shot but instead almost passed the ball into the net but Talavera was able to get to the ball. Pumas held on and took the 1-0 lead to halftime.
The second half started with Pumas having the first opportunity almost a minute in when Dinenno got into the area but his shot was easily saved by Orozco. Later on Dinenno would score, but it was ruled offside and the play resulted in a fight that ended with Orozco and Carlos Gutierrez getting yellow carded. Then a great combination play after winning the ball by Pumas ended with Alejandro Mayorga entering into the area and getting off a left footed shot past Orozco for the 2-0 lead. Carlos Gutierrez had won the ball and left it off for Mayorga, who made a good run and got off the shot to continue a great game for him. Tijuana started to react and subbed out Marcel Ruiz and Aldo Cruz for Luis Gamiz and Jimmy Gomez. Pumas answered by subbing out Carlos Gonzalez for Facundo Waller. Pumas almost had a chance when Gutierrez made a run and took on two Xolos players in the area but his shot was saved by Orozco. Then after a play by Castillo in the area, the ref went to VAR and ruled it to have been handled and gave Xolos a penalty kick. Brayan Angulo took the PK and Talavera made a great stop to save it and send it out for a corner kick. Carlos Gutierrez looked to be injured, and he got subbed out for Leonel Lopez. Xolos tried to answer back with another run by Castillo into the are where he almost created a lot of danger, but his cross was off. Xolos subbed out Christian Rivera for Jordan Rezabala and then continued with the dangerous opportunities, forcing Talavera to make a great save off a shot by Castillo that was later ruled offside. Xolos continued to have more control of the ball as they pushed for the tie and subbed out defender Victor Guzman for offensive Jordi Cortizo. Pumas continued to suffer as they looked to have trouble with the heat, especially Favio Alvarez. He later got subbed out for Bryan Mendoza as well as Juan Manuel Iturbe for Brian Figueroa. In injury time, Xolos got another chance when the ball fell into the area to Mauro Lainez and his shot went wide. Pumas got a corner kick later and Dinenno rose to head the ball but it went well over and wide. Then in the play of the game, the ball bounced the middle of the field and Bryan Mendoza surprised everybody in the stadium and everybody watching it on TV by making a half line shot that went over the head of Orozco for the 3-0. It was a wonderful goal, easily the best so far in the season for Pumas. A minute later the whistle blew and Pumas continued to be undefeated, getting their best victory of the season.
After a couple of disappointing ties at home, Pumas finally return to their winning ways. It wasn’t an overly dominating performance, and it should be worrying how they lost the battle for possession after getting the 2-0 lead and how Xolos had numerous chances to get back into the game, but overall they were the better team and they struck at the right moments. Fans are going to be happy, especially with the clinching goal from the halfway line from a youngster like Bryan Mendoza. Pumas now climbs to second place, although they will have to wait until after the Leon game to see if they remain there until the start of next week games. Tijuana meanwhile fought hard under the noon sun of Mexico City but they couldn’t get it together,and they messed up badly in getting to the game after Angulo’s penalty kick was stopped in what was probably the game changing play. Tijuana will now have a tough game in their return home when they face Monterrey while Pumas will stay in place to play a Puebla team that will be flying high after their 4-1 win on Friday against Toluca.