Xolos of Tijuana gave their best performance of the season so far, dominating and defeating Pumas 1-0. Xolos grabbed their first victory of the season and will plan to build off of it, especially after such a good performance which should have ended with a larger margin of victory. Once again Pumas came crashing back to earth at Estadio Caliente, a stadium where they normally struggle on a night where they were lucky to only lose by a single goal. Xolos hope things continue this way as they travel to face Mazatlan next Friday, while Pumas returns home hoping to get out of their funk with a tough home game against Leon.
The first half started with the notable thing that Pumas was coming in with three forwards in Jose Rogerio, Diogo de Oliveira, and Juan Ignacio Dinenno, a very offensive lineup from a team that many times has come in with only one attacker. Tijuana had the first opportunity when a great pass found Facundo Ferreyra, but his shot went well wide. Tijuana was controlling the possession and pushing Pumas back, and the visitors couldn’t mount any offense. Off of a free kick, Diogo ended up clearing the ball with a header that hit the post, being very close to scoring an own goal. Renato Ibarra had a great chance when a pass found him in the area, but his shot went right into the hands of Pumas’ goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera. Talavera would come up big again after he slid to get the ball off of Lucas Rodriguez’ feet. Xolos won the ball and then it was Ferreyra who got a shot in the area, but it went wide. Ferreyra got another chance after he was left on a one-on-one, but he made a terrible mistake in shooting and just lobbed it into Talavera’s hands. Then after a good play, Rodriguez got past the Pumas defense and was about to get past Talavera, but he deflected the ball before Rodriguez was able to get the ball. Rogerio crashed into him which the ref whistled as a penalty kick. Facundo Ferreyra stepped up to take the penalty, and Talevera came up big to stop it but the referee judged him to not have been on the line and he ordered it to be taken again. Ferreyra stepped up to take it again and it went well wide in a terrible kick. After a long cross into the area, Xolos’ goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco went to grab in but then crashed into Diogo and both needed medical attention. Both however were able to remain in the match. The match remained scoreless, and Pumas was lucky to not be trailing after being dominated by Xolos.
The second half started with neither team making changes, as Tijuana hoped to finally score and Pumas hoping to turn things around. Pumas had the first chance when a cross into the area found DInenno, but his header went wide. After a cross into the area, the ball fell for Ferreyra but his shot went wide, wasting another chance. It was the last play for Facundo Ferreyra, who got subbed out after having one of the worst performances ever in Xolos history (it was that bad) for Mauro Manotas. Pumas then got a ball sent into the area, and it fell for a close range shot from Favio Alvarez, but it went wide in Pumas’ worst miss so far. Pumas then subbed out Diogo de Oliveira and Leonel Lopez for Jorge Ruvalcaba and Cristian Battocchio. Tijuana meanwhile subbed out Renato Ibarra for new important signing Joaquin Montecinos, the Chilean international making his debut in Liga MX. Tijuana had a great chance when a cross by Montecino went past Talavera, but Yonatthan Rak failed to connect with it at the line and the ball bounced off him wide, although replays showed it really bounced off Pumas’ defender Nicolas Freire and a corner kick should have been given. Then after a good cross into the area, Lisandro Lopez made a great left footed volley past Talavera for the 1-0 lead. Pumas subbed out Juan Ignacion Dinenno and Higor Meritao for Washington Corozo and Omar Islas while Tijuana subbed out Lisandro Lopez and David Barbona for Victor Guzman and Christian Rivera. Talavera came up big by making a great save off a free kick shot by Manotas. Pumas tried to get the equalizer, but they wouldn’t come close to scoring as they were severely outplayed and Xolos got a more than deserved win.
Xolos gave a great performance at home to get their first win of the season. If it wasn’t because of a bad performance from Facundo Ferreyra, they would have gotten a bigger win against a Pumas side that was terrible from the start. Xolos will need to improve on offense, and they might need to give Mauro Manotas a chance to start again after Ferreyra’s disastrous match. Still if they continue this level of play, they might be favored to make the Liguilla for the first time in a while. They will need to start showing this outside Tijuana and Estadio Caliente, and the Mazatlan match should be a great test for it. On the other hand Pumas gave their worst performance of the season so far, and now their great start seems to have come to an end. The starting lineup idea of having three forwards didn’t work, but worse yet was the lack of correcting things including subbing in Christian Battocchio, who once again gave a terrible performance, something that has been a constant since his arrival to the team. Pumas will need to pick things up, and they will have to do so against one of the best squads in the league in Leon, a team that not only went to last season’s final but but has had success in Pumas’ home stadium, Estadio Olimpico Univeristario.