Pumas gave their best performance of the season at just the right time to get a 2-1 win over Toluca, booking their ticket to the Liguilla. Pumas was the superior team and could have gotten a better score against a Toluca team that fought to the end. Pumas will now go to the Liguilla to face first place Club America in one of the Clasicos of Mexican football, while Toluca ended their season.
The first half started with Pumas coming out for the first time with Juan Ignacio Dinenno and Diogo de Oliveira. Pumas had the first chance when a shot from outside the area by Dinenno went just wide. Later Dinenno got into the area and shot wide, instead of sending the ball into the area where Diogo would have gotten to it before the defender for a possible tap in. Toluca responded with a free kick that ended with a header by Ian Gonzalez that hit the post. Dinenno finally made a play that found Diogo, but incredibly he whiffed on the shot. Then in an incredible play, Toluca lost the ball at the half line and Leonel Lopez would take advantage to get off a monster bomb of a shot that went over Toluca’s goalkeeper Luis Garcia in a goal for the ages for the 1-0 lead. Lopez had yet to score on the season, doing so in a grand way against his former team. Pumas threatened again when a shot by Sebastian Saucedo went just wide. Minutes later, Diogo went to the area and got off a shot that forced Garcia to make a great save. Toluca then got a good opportunity when Raul Lopez got a left footed shot from outside the area, but Pumas’ goalkeeper, Aflredo Talavera made a great save on it. Saucedo then got a great low cross into the area, but Dinenno failed to get to it by inches. Later off of a cross, Dinenno got a header but it went wide. Toluca had a good chance when a great cross by Rubens Sambueza found Alexis Canelo, but his left footed shot was easily blocked by a Pumas’ defender. Later a cross into the area found Michael Estrada in the area but his header went wide.
The second half started with both teams coming out with the same eleven players they started with. Pumas had a good chance when a cross into the area found Dinenno, but his shot was deflected by a Toluca defender into the path of Garcia. Later Saucedo got off a shot that Garcia saved. Then after a great run by Alan Mozo, he found Diogo in the area, and he got off a left footed shot that went past Garcia but it hit the post. Toluca’s defense then tried to clear it, but in doing so they volleyed the ball right into Juan Ignacio Dinenno, who got off a right footed shot past Garcia for the 2-0 lead. Toluca tried to respond immediately by subbing out Ian Gonzalez for Kevin Castañeda. Pumas then had a good opportunity when Saucedo got a shot off, but it went just wide. Then after a cross by Sambueza, it looked like Mozo inexplicably handled the ball and the referee gave a penalty kick. Haret Ortega surprisingly took the penalty and with a right footed shot scored the 2-1 getting Toluca back into the game. Pumas then subbed out Diogo de Oliveira for Higor Meritao. Pumas wasted another opportunity when Dinenno got a ball in the area, but his left footed shot went wide after a Toluca defender deflected it. Pumas subbed out Sebastian Saucedo for Washington Corozo. Toluca then had a chance after Mozo gave up the ball to Diego Chavez, but his shot went wide. Toluca then subbed out Marco Estrada and Diego Rigonatto for Braian Samudio and Jorge Rodriguez. After a cross into the area finished with a crash by Dinenno and Garcia, Garcia stood up and started a small scuffle by getting in Dinenno’s face after he was down on the floor. A cross into the area found Raul Lopez, but his volley hit the post. Pumas subbed out Leonel Lopez for Ricardo Galindo a very defensive move. Dinenno got a one-on-one against goalkeeper Garcia and looked to have been tripped, but the referee failed to give a penalty. Off of a counter attack, Mozo made a great pass to Dinenno, who got off a shot that was saved by Garcia. In the last play, a free kick was sent to the area but Toluca wasn’t able to get a header and Pumas had held on to get a victory in their best performance of the tournament, booking their ticket to the Liguilla.
Pumas was able to click at the right time as they played one of the best, if not the best games this season. After an incredibly exciting final day victory over Cruz Azul by a 4-3 score gave them the ticket to the Repechaje, they did one better by being the better team away in Toluca. Pumas must improve their finishing, as they had a number of chances they missed and it almost cost them after the goal by Toluca. Alan Mozo’s mistake that gave Toluca the penalty also shows that there are still defensive mistakes from Pumas that they must fix. Still, fans are now very proud of the team and they way they showed personality to win, including what is probably the best candidate for the Goal of the Season after Lopez’ bomb. Pumas will be heavy underdogs against Club America, but fans will have a new vision after a season were they at times looked out of all contention and now look to be at least one of the most exciting of Liga MX.