Mazatlan spoiled the debut of Dani Alves with Pumas by grabbing a 1-1 tie at the historic Estadio Olimpico. Pumas needed a late goal, even if they had been the better team throughout the match, to not have gotten a disappointing loss at home in front of a great crowd that was there to see the Brazilian international. Pumas kept their undefeated record, but continue to struggle under their heavy expectations. They will now will have a tough match at home against Monterrey on Sunday, while Mazatlan has another tough visit, this time against Tijuana.
The first half started with everybody in Mexico paying attention to the debut of Dani Alves, in the starting eleven for his first match with Pumas. They also had the return of Arturo Ortiz after an injury. 30 seconds in, Pumas had a good chance when Juan Ignacio Dinenno got the ball in the area, but his shot went just wide. Pumas controlled the match in the early minutes and had some good plays into the area, but no shots came out of them. Leonel Lopez got a left footed shot from outside the area, but Mazatlan goalkeeper Nicolas Vikonis made the save. Later off of a corner kick, Dinenno got a good header but it went right to Vikonis. A free kick from Alves forced Vikonis to make another save. Mazatlan then started to get into the game, making the match closer to even. A great shot from Eduardo Salvio from outside the area would have beaten Vikonis if it hadn’t went just wide. The halftime whistle blew and although Pumas started strong, they faded and Mazatlan was able to contain them even if they created even less danger on offense.
The second half started with Pumas hoping to finally convert their chances while Mazatlan was trying to stop them from doing so. Mazatlan had a good chance when a wide open Eduard Bello found the ball in the area, but his header was brilliantly deflected by Nicolas Freire. A shot from Salvio was then saved by Vikonis, and although Dinenno was close for the rebound, he was incredibly offside. Pumas then subbed out Higor Meritao and Jeronimo Rodriguez for Diogo de Olivera and Efrain Velarde. After a bad mistake from Pumas, it looked like Nicolas Benedetti had scored but the goal was correctly called off for a handball from the Mazatlan attacker. A cross into the area was then headed from close range by Eduard Bello, and it went right past Pumas goalkeeper Julio Gonzalez to give Mazatlan the lead. The play came off a throw in that had been a mistake by Gonzalez, who stayed on his line and forced Freire to clear that ball to his surprise. Pumas tried ton answer with a shot from Dinenno that was saved by Vikonis. The rebound fell to Salvio, whose shot went wide. Velarde looked to have a great chance, but not only was his shot blocked by Vikonis but he had also been offside. Pumas then subbed out Leonel Loepz for Marco Garcia while Mazatlan subbed out Nicolas Benedetti and Roberto Meraz for Alfonso Sanchez and Andres Montaño. A great cross into the area found Diogo but he did a bad job of lowering the ball and it was cleared. Mazatlan subbed out Eduard Bello and Brian Rubio for Enrique Cedillo and Gonzalo Sosa. A cross into the area from Salvio, was connected by Dinenno but it was cleared by a Mazatlan defender although replays showed that it might have been Dinenno who sent the ball wide. On the ensuing corner kick, Nicolas Freire rose to head the ball past Vikonis for the 1-1 equalizer. The referee went to VAR because of a possible foul between Diogo on Nestor Vidrio, but replays showed that both players pushed each others. Pumas tried for another goal, but in the end they weren’t able to get one and it was a disappointing result in Alves’ debut.
Pumas have had a tough time facing up to the high expectations they had after the number of signings that have made the team into a possible contender. With Dani Alves being the highest, there was a lot of attention to the match and high expectations from Pumas’ fans. And yet, they needed an almost last minute goal and from a controversial play to get a tie at home against Mazatlan, a team that is far from being a favorite to win a title. Pumas continues to be undefeated, and yet they have only gotten a single win, a 1-0 victory at home against a Necaxa side that could have gotten a tie just like Mazatlan. Pumas needs to improve defensively and offensively, especially their forward Juan Ignacion Dinenno, who once again is in another scoring drought with a lot of misses and his only goal coming off a penalty kick. They will have a tough match at home against Monterrey, where they hope they finally are able to get a win as they soon will have to travel to Spain to face FC Barcelona in the Joan Gamper Cup. Meanwhile Mazatlan will hope they keep their good visiting record, but they will have a tough trip to Tijuana, where they will face and improving Xolos who will be heavy favorites.