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Leo Fernández rescues Toluca from disaster with wonder strike

The Uruguayan struck the ball brilliantly in the 5th minute of stoppage time to help his team avoid falling to the hands of Querétaro.

Queretaro v Toluca - Torneo Grita Mexico C22 Liga MX Photo by Agustin Cuevas/Getty Images

In a game where Toluca were favorites to go into the Corregidora and grab all 3 points from lowly Querétaro, the scripts inverted on everyone. After a slow start to the match on both sides, it wasn’t until the 10th minute of action when Pablo Barrera took the ball on the left hand side of Toluca’s box and layed in a beautiful cross that was unable to be directed correctly by two Querétaro players (one of them Maxi Perg) waiting inside the box. Fortunately for Perg, the ball bounced off a Toluca defender and landed right in front of him, perfect to slam home, which he did, off the crossbar.

For the rest of the first half, Toluca surprisingly struggled to create anything against an orderly Gallos, other than a right-footed shot by Fernández inside the box directed straight at keeper Aguerre. One would seem to expect more with a coach of the mentality and style of Ambriz. And the half-time break didn’t seem to work all that well either. In fact, with almost 15 minutes gone by in the second half, Ángel Sepúlveda received a through ball that left him one-on-one with keeper Luis García, which he put away masterfully, only to turn and see the assistant ref’s flag up, omiting his previous action. Toluca would’ve been in big trouble had that play stood.

Instead, things started shifting in the Mexiquenses’ favor from that point on. Five minutes later, a late challenge by Betsiel Hernández left Gallos Blancos a man down with half an hour still to go in the match. Leo Fernández continued directing this offense, and their attacks began to get dangerous. Fernández had a shot (from the same spot in which he scored the equalizer) in the 70th minute that rolled into Aguerre’s grasp. A couple minutes later, it was Kevin Castañeda who’s shot grazed Aguerre’s crossbar. A couple minutes after that, a long cross sent in from a free kick that was headed toward goal hit a Querétaro defender’s hand accidentally that easily could’ve (and probably should’ve) been ruled a penalty. Gallos escaped unharmed.

In the 90th minute, a long cross found ex-Querétaro striker Camilo Sanvezzo’s head, only to see a diving Aguerre catch the ball with ease. In the 90th + 4 minute, Fernández came into the scene again, this time with a free kick that rocketed off Aguerre’s hands straight off the crossbar again, and after a slight scuffle for the ball, Aguerre again dove to prevent the ball from rolling into the net. At that point, the victory appeared in the bag for Gallos. However, 40 seconds later, Fernández took the ball like he did in the 70th minute, and with a dribble toward the center, easily disposing of two Gallos’ defenders, got off another hot, left-footed blast which this time, finally, beat Aguerre’s dive. Toluca had found its deserved equalizer in the 90th + 5 minute.

Not only did Ambriz’s squad avoid losing to one of the worst (if not the worst) teams in the league, but they avoided dropping a second consecutive match, especially after their 1-4 thrashing by Cruz Azul last Sunday. They’ve now gone unbeaten in 4 out of the last 5 matches and find themselves in the 7th overall seed (10 points) with a game in hand once this weekend passes. Probably not the result the Diablos Rojos expected, but considering how things were going, they’ll take the point. Toluca host Tijuana next Thursday as they look to make it 5 out of 6 unbeaten.