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Pumas come back to start season with win against FC Juarez

Pumas opened their season with a 2-1 win over the border city team.

Pumas UNAM v FC Juarez - Torneo Clausura 2023 Liga MX Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images

It wasn’t the best performance, but Pumas got a 2-1 win over FC Juarez in their Clausura 2023 opener. FC Juarez took the lead early, but a key red card in the first half changed the match and Pumas took advantage of it. Both teams will need to improve for their next match as Pumas travel to Torreon to face Santos while Juarez will have their first home game of the season against Tijuana.

Pumas came out with a very different starting 11 than past seasons, with a number of young players as well as new signings like Edgar Alaffita and Ulises Rivas. Rivas would have the first chance when he got the ball in the area and volleyed a shot that went right into the hands of Juarez’s keeper Alfredo Talavera. A cross from Alan Medina turned into a shot, but the ball went wide. The game was very even to this point with both teams trading possession constantly. After getting the ball in the area, Juan Ignacio Dinenno fired a shot that was deflected and almost went in because of that. Then, after a good run, Gabriel Fernandez got the ball into the area and Adrian Aldrete incredibly allowed a wide open Alan Medina into the area, who got an easy shot past Pumas’ keeper Sebastian Sosa to score the 1-0.

It was a surprising score as Pumas were finally gaining control of the match when the goal happened. Then, after a bonehead move from Fernandez, he got a yellow card for not giving the ball back after a foul. He complained and cursed out the ref, earning him a second yellow and thus a red, leaving Juarez down to ten men with just 5 minutes left in the half. After a good cross into the area, the ball bounced off Talavera’s head and fell to Gustavo Del Prete, whose shot bounced off Dinenno and into defender Alejandro Arribas. Although there were calls from Pumas for a PK on a possible handball from Arribas, nothing was given. The halftime whistle blew and Juarez took their lead to the dressing room with the tough task of keeping it up with only 10 players for the remainder of the match.

The second half started with three Pumas subs - one of the players brought on was Dani Alves. A minute in, Del Prete had a good chance, but his shot was saved by Talavera. A clash of heads between Luis Rodriguez and Ruvalcaba stopped the match and made both of the players require medical attention. After getting the ball in the area, Dinenno hit the post. A great pass from Alves then found Salvio in the area, but he incredibly tried to get past the defenders and ended up gifting the ball to Talavera. After a great pass from Alves into the area, Eduardo Salvio got a low shot under Talavera and into the net for the 1-1 in the 76th minute. It was a well deserved tie after Pumas had taken complete control of the match. The ball was int the area again, but Dinenno’s close range header was handled by Talavera. There was a play where Salvio looked to have been dropped in the area by Talavera, but a PK wasn’t given. Instead, Salvio was shown a yellow card for diving. After going to VAR, the ref reversed the decision and instead gave Pumas the PK. Juan Ignacio Dinenno powered it past Talavera for the 2-1, with the keeper barely getting a hand on it, but not enough to keep it from going in. Pumas held on to the lead get the win and started their season with 3 points.

It wasn’t the best performance, but Pumas got the result they wanted. Rivas and Alaffita especially had subpar debuts and Juarez managed to take the lead, but the red card was the difference maker. Even when Pumas were dominating the match due to the extra player advantage, they had troubled translating it to offensive chances. Rafa Puente Jr. and company will need much improvement and soon as they will have tougher matches without a man advantage. FC Juarez and their fans should be really ticked off at the unnecessary red card that Gabriel Fernandez got himself which potentially cost them the match, although before the goal, FC Juarez weren’t in control anyway.