Pumas did it again!
After losing badly in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals by a score of 3-0 against the New England Revolution, Pumas picked up a 3-0 win at home to send the match to the penalty shootout, where they won it 4-3. Pumas dominated the match, and were just winners against a Revolution side who had trouble with the altitude and suffered as much as Pumas did the previous week in the snow. Pumas now qualifies to the semifinal round where they will face Cruz Azul, which guarantees that a Liga MX team will be playing in the CONCACAF Champions League Final.
The first half started with Pumas coming out needing to score, but still coming out with only a two striker partnership with Juan Ignacio Dinenno and Jose Rogerio. Pumas knew that an away goal would really hurt their chances. The Revolution took advantage of Pumas’ need to grab possession and tried for a goal, although they couldn’t create a chances. A shot by Dinenno was saved by Revolution goalkeeper Earl Edwards. Pumas started to push the Revolution back and won control of possession. Off of a counter, New England had a great chance when Gustavo Bou got a cross into the area that found Adam Buksa, but his volley was terrible and it went well wide. In the best opportunity of the match to that point, Alan Mozo got into the area and got off a right footed shot that forced Edwards to make a great save. A cross from Efrain Velarde found Jose Rogerio, whose close range header was saved by Edwards. Then a great cross into the area from Omar Islas, got to the feet of Rogerio, who then made a great play by immediately making the pass into the middle where Juan Ignacio Dinenno was able to connect to it with his thigh to get the ball past Edwards for the 1-0 lead. It was a great pass from Islas, but an even more wonderful play from Rogerio in a great play all around. The Revolution immediately tried to answer with a long range shot from Bou that was saved by Pumas’ goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera. A left footed shot from Higor Meritao hit the post, although the referee ruled that the ball had gone out during the shot in what was a mistake. A cross into the area was just missed by Rogerio, and the ball ended up falling to Omar Gonzalez, who saved the ball by passing it to Edwards. The first half ended and although Pumas had been the better team and was dominating possession, they still needed two goals and not to get scored on to force a penalty kick shootout.
The second half started with New England subbing out Arnor Traustason for Tommy McNamara. The Revolution got a chance almost immediately when Bou got a shot that went just wide. Pumas answered with a cross by Sebastian Saucedo that went just wide. Then Jose Rogerio got a low cross into the area that Juan Ignacio Dinenno slid to connect with a right footed shot past Edwards for the 2-0 lead. It was a key goal that now set things up for a comeback by Pumas. Pumas now only needed one goal, but also could not allow a goal or else it would quickly complicate things for Pumas. A shot from outside the area from Meritao went just wide. Carles Gil got a left footed shot that forced Talavera to make a good save. Off of a corner kick, Pumas missed a great chance when Dinenno got a wide open header from the penalty spot, but it went well wide. Then after a cross into the area from Mozo was deflected by Brandon Bye right to Sebastian Saucedo, he was able to get a strong right footed shot past Edwards for the 3-0 lead. It was a bad mistake by Bye and also by Edwards, but Pumas had gotten the three goals it needed to send the game to a penalty shootout provided they didn’t get scored on. Pumas subbed out Omar Islas for Diogo de Oliveira, as they were going for the fourth goal against a dispirited Revolution team. A cross into the area by Mozo found Dinenno, but his header went wide. After a terrible mistake by Mozo, who lost the ball, Buksa had a great chance in the area but his shot went well wide. Pumas answered with a long range shot that was saved by Edwards. Because of injury, Sebastian Saucedo had to be subbed out for Jorge Ruvalcaba. New England also subbed out Gustavo Bou because of an injury for Jozy Altidore. Altidore immediately got into a fight with Mozo, and after he straight up laughed in the face of the referee, which earned him a yellow card. Pumas then subbed out Jose Rogerio for Washington Corozo. Pumas kept dominating possession, but knowing that they couldn’t allow a goal from New England, they no longer had the momentum they had prior to getting their third goal. After a cross by Mozo was deflected it fell right to Dinenno, but his shot went wide. A cross into the area found Meritao, but his header also went wide. Off of a free kick, the Revolution got the ball and after a melee, sent a cross that found Omar Gonzalez, whose close range header forced Talavera to make a great save. Off of the save, Pumas got a counter attack which ended with Dinenno getting close range header that Edwards made a great save on. It was a crazy minute of football, and it wound up being the last big chance for both teams as the match ended and the game went to a penalty kick shootout.
New England Revolution won the coin toss for the penalty kick shootout and chose to kick first. Carles Gil stepped up to take the first penalty and with a strong left footed shot scored the 1-0. Arturo Ortiz then took Pumas’ first kick and with right footed shot would score it past Edwards for the 1-1. Dejuan Jones then took the next one and with another right footed shot, scored the 2-1. Alan Mozo then stepped up and with the third consecutive right footed shot, scored the 2-2. Tommy McNamara then stepped up and got off another right footed shot, but Alfredo Talavera made a great stop to keep the shootout tie. Efrain Velarde hoped to get Pumas the lead, but his left footed shot was easily saved by Edwards to keep the score tied. Sebastian Lletget then stepped up to take the next penalty, and his shot was terrible, going well wide and once again giving Pumas the chance to take the lead. Nicolas Freire then stepped up and this time his left footed shot went past Edwards for Pumas to take the 3-2 lead. Jozy Altidore stepped up to keep the Revolution alive, and he did with a strong right footed shot past Talavera for the 3-3. Juan Ignacio Dinenno then stepped up to get the possible winning penalty. Dinenno hit a good right footed shot past Edwards for the 4-3, and Pumas had once again made an heroic comeback to book their ticket to the semifinals.
Pumas wrote another historic page in their comeback history. Under Coach Andres Lillini, Pumas had made history in the semifinal round of the 2020 Apertura when after losing 4-0 against Cruz Azul in the first leg, they came back to get a 4-0 win at home in the second leg to get to the Liga MX Final. Then last season they needed a win in their final regular season Liga MX against Cruz Azul where they went down 3-1 at half time. Pumas once again came back to get a 4-3 win that got them to the Liguilla where they made it all the way to the semifinals. Now Pumas gets their third comeback with a 3-0 win after a 3-0 loss in the first leg, where the completed the triumph in the shootout. Pumas was deserving of the win after the Revolution couldn’t cope with the altitude and the environment in Mexico City, just as Pumas had suffered in the snow and cold of Foxborough, Massachusetts. Pumas will now face their rival, the team who they had their two previous comebacks in Cruz Azul as both team guarantee that a Liga MX team will be playing in the Champions League Final. It will be a tougher task against a Cruz Azul team that knows Pumas better and who also plays in Mexico City. Yet Pumas has already done it against them, and will get a boost of facing their city rival to try to get back to a CONCACAF Final.