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Wonder goal gives Cruz Azul a home victory over Pumas

A great goal leads Cruz Azul to a 2-1 win over Pumas.

Cruz Azul v Pumas UNAM - Torneo Grita Mexico C22 Liga MX Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images

Cruz Azul got a convincing 2-1 victory over city rivals Pumas at home as they set to start a new streak with two wins at home before they travel to Canada. Pumas had some moments, but overall Cruz Azul was the better team in the second half and got the deserved victory. Cruz Azul will now travel to Montreal for the return leg of their CONCACAF Champions League, while Pumas stays home where they hope for a miracle in their return leg game against the New England Revolution.

The first half started with Cruz Azul surprising almost everyone by coming out with the first start for young player Rodrigo Huescas, while also giving the start to Ivan Morales. Pumas came out with a very offensive lineup, with the frontline of Juan Ignacio Dinenno, Diogo de Oliveira, and Jose Rogerio. Off a free kick, Jose Ignacio Rivero got a great free kick that forced Pumas’ goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera to make a great save. Pumas then had a great chance when Diogo made a great pass to Dinenno, who got a close range shot that Cruz Azul’s goalkeeper Jesus Corona deflected into the post. The rebound fell to Dinenno, who got off a right footed shot that Corona was able to stop with another save. Then off a corner kick, Pablo Aguilar rose to head the ball back and then Luis Abram got to it, and his header deflected past Talavera for the 1-0 lead for the hosts. Pumas answered almost immediately however when a great combination play between Favio Alvarez and Rogerio was finished with Alvarez getting the ball back in the area and getting off a right footed shot past Corona for the 1-1 equalizer. It was a great goal, and the game which had been a little disappointing had gotten a big boost. A good right footed shot from Rogerio was saved by Corona. After a deflection off a Nicolas Freire, the ball fell in the area to Huescas, but his shot was saved off his feet by Talavera. The first half had ended lively, but in the end the score remained tied.

The second half had Cruz Azul subbing out Ivan Morales and Luis Angel Mendoza for Santiago Gimenez and Uriel Antuna. Pumas had a good chance when Diogo went past his defender to get to a ball in the area, but his shot was easily saved by Corona. Later off a counter, a cross from Diogo found Alvarez in the area, but his left footed shot went wide. After a great move by Antuna, he got off a left footed shot that Freire deflected into the arms of Talavera. Later Rivero got a good shot from outside the area that was well saved by Talavera. At the 62nd minute both teams went into the middle of the field to hug it out as will be done in every game as a statement against the violence from last week. Immediately after play resumed, Cruz Azul came real close when a cross into the area found Rivero, but his header went just wide. Erik Lira then got off a long range shot that was very close to going in. Cruz Azul subbed out Carlos Rodriguez and Rodrigo Huescas for Angel Romero and Juan Escobar. Then off of a corner kick, Juan Escobar made an incredible half bicycle kick past Talavera for the 2-1 lead. It was an incredible goal and a deserved one, as Cruz Azul had been the better side in the second half.

Pumas subbed out Juan Ignacio Dinenno for Omar Islas, while Coach Andres Lillini was red carded for protesting to the ref that the substitution wasn’t allowed before the corner kick. Pumas also subbed out Leonel Lopez for Sebastian Saucedo. Off a corner kick, after two headers, Diogo hit a shot had to be saved by Corona for another corner kick. On the ensuing corner kick, Diogo got another header that forced Corona to make a good save. After a foul on Romero by Alvarez, a small scuffle started between the teams. Later it was Romero who got into a small scuffle after fouling Saucedo. Pumas then missed an incredible chance when a cross into the area fell to Diogo, but he missed contacting the goal in what would have been a close range shot. That miss would end up costing Pumas as it was a great opportunity but the last one, and Cruz Azul held on to get the win.

Cruz Azul improved with this match after last week’s home loss against Puebla. They were the better side and got a deserved win, although at times Pumas had great chances and could have stolen a tie in the final minutes. It wasn’t a huge difference between the two, but it is a boost before the tough match they have in Canada. With only a 1-0 lead against Montreal, Cruz Azul has the advantage, and getting an away goal could help them a lot and pressure the Montreal Impact. While away games for Mexican teams have been bad overall (they’ve only won two of the five played so far), they at least are coming in with an advantage. On the other hand, Pumas is almost eliminated from the same tournament after losing 3-0 in New England and will go into the game with back to back losses in Liga MX after losing to Santos last Wednesday (their match against Mazatlan FC was postponed because of the incidents in Queretaro). Pumas looks in trouble, and not at all to be able to pull the miracle of a big win against New England without allowing an away goal.