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Pumas crush a weakened Puebla

Pumas got a 4-1 victory over a Puebla team that was missing 6 players because of the COVID-19 virus.

Pumas UNAM v Puebla - Torneo Guard1anes 2020 Liga MX Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images

Pumas continued being the only undefeated club in Mexico by crushing a weakened Puebla by a score of 4-1. It was supposed to be an even match, but Puebla came in without six players after a round of COVID-19 tests ruled them out, which severely weakened the team. Yet they took the lead and scared a Pumas team that came out slow but soon were able to take advantage of the situation, dominating the rest of the game en route to their second straight victory. Pumas will now travel to Torreon for a tough midweek game against Santos, while Puebla returns home to face an improving America.

The first half started with Puebla having the big hit of missing so many players in their starting lineup. Even with the clear disadvantage, Puebla came out to play and after a couple of even minutes, they would take the lead in a surprising play. A great backheel pass from Omar Fernandez surprised the Pumas defense, and Salvador Reyes went past the Pumas defender and into the area alone, getting a left footed shot past Pumas’ keeper Alfredo Talavera for the 1-0 lead.

Pumas tried to answer back and in doing so, opened themselves to counterattacks form Puebla. In one of those, Omar Fernandez finished with a shot that forced Talavera to make a save. Pumas started to push back Puebla, and Carlos Gonzalez made a good shot from outside the area that forced Puebla’s keeper Ivan Rodriguez to make a save. Later Gonzalez just missed connecting with a header off a great cross from Juan Iturbe. Later off, after a second play off a free kick, Reyes got a shot off that forced Talavera to make a close range save. Later a cross by Iturbe got handled by a Puebla player that deflected the shot into keeper Rodriguez, who had to make a save. The ref called the handball, but it was outside the area. Off the free kick, a shot by Nicolas Freire got cleared by the Puebla defense. Then after a play through the left side, Carlos Gonzalez got a pass into the area that found Favio Alvarez, who got a right footed shot off past Rodriguez and into the roof of the net to make it 1-1. Pumas got the deserved tying goal after having taken control of the game. Then after a play in the area, Alejandro Mayorga was brought down and the referee gave a penalty kick. Carlos Gonzalez took it and converted it with a right footed shot past Rodriguez for the 2-1 lead for the visitors. Puebla then started pushing up as Pumas no longer controlled the game. Yet Puebla couldn’t create any chances before the referee blew the halftime whistle.

The second half started with Pumas subbing out Jesus Rivas for Alan Mozo and Puebla subbing out Alejandro Chumacero for Christian Tabo. Pumas had the first chance when a cross found a wide open Juan Ignacio Dinenno, but his header went straight to Rodriguez in a wasted opportunity. Dinenno wasted another great opportunity after winning the ball but losing it to the only defender instead of waiting for Gonzalez to arrive to make it a two-on-one. Puebla subbed out Amaury Escoto and Israel Reyes for two ex-Pumas players, Eduardo Herrera and Alejandro Acosta. Almost immediately Pumas had another great chance in a two-on-one situation, but Favio Alvarez’s pass to Dinenno was blocked by the lone Puebla defender. Later in the ensuing corner kick, Alan Mozo had a great shot that was deflected by a Puebla player. Then in the ensuing corner kick, Nicolas Freire got to the ball and headed it and although Rodriguez got to the ball, he left it there for Johan Vasquez to arrive and shoot the ball past Rodriguez for the 3-1 lead for Pumas. Although the Puebla players protested for an offside call, the replay showed it wasn’t. Then after Juan Manuel Iturbe stole a ball in the half line and forced a counter kick, he found Juan Ignacio Dinenno, who got off a rocket shot from outside the area that went past Rodriguez for the 4-1. It was the best goal so far in the game, and once again another candidate for the best goal of the week just like last week.

Puebla tried to answer and came close but once again Talavera made a great play by taking the ball from the feet of the Puebla attacker, who would have gone alone into the area. Pumas subbed out Iturbe and Dinenno for Facundo Waller and Leonel Lopez. By the substitutions it looked like Pumas was going to sit back, but they didn’t do so immediately. Puebla then answered by subbing out Omar Fernandez and Salvador Reyes for Osvaldo Martinez and Emanuel Gularte. Puebla had a great chance when Tabo made a run into the area but a slide from Vasquez cleared the ball. Pumas then subbed out Favio Alvarez and Carlos Gutierrez for Bryan Mendoza and Brian Figueroa. Later Tabo had another chance, but his shot went straight to Talavera. The pace of the game slowed down after it and Pumas once again started to control the possession. The last minutes were controlled by the home team and the ref blew whistle to give Pumas the win.

There is no question that Pumas has been lucky this season, from last minute goals to situations like what happened with Puebla. But while it’s true that they took advantage of a weakened Puebla, it is also true that the team has improved a lot. This is not only their second straight victory, but it has been their two best games of the season and the team has improved a lot. The main reason for the improvement has been the level of play of Carlos Gonzalez. After a slumping start to the season that had Gonzalez get benched for the Tigres game, his improvement has been key in Pumas having their best level of play this season. They will have a tough visit to Torreon, and once again there is a big danger to the end of the undefeated streak, but still Pumas is finally playing to an acceptable level if not even surpassing it. Puebla meanwhile suffers their worse loss of the season, but the COVID-19 problems and the fact they were out six of their players really was a tough hill to climb. Unfortunately for them things don’t get any easier with a tough home game against America, but hopefully things will improve for them next week.