Pumas gave their best match of the Apertura 2023 when they crushed Cruz Azul with a 4-1 victory. Pumas bounced back after an even first half to greatly improve in the second half, getting a solid victory over their city rivals. The performance follows another big victory at home over Queretaro, which has Pumas at their best level in a very inspiring Apertura 2023 so far. Pumas will host a tough Monterrey side when they get back from the FIFA date, while Cruz Azul will have a tough visit to Monterrey, when they play Tigres.
The first half started with once again Pumas coming out with Juan Ignacio Dinenno and Gabriel Fernandez up top, while Cruz Azul kept Angel Sepulveda as a starter after his hat trick on Wednesday. A longball reached Dinenno, but his right footed shot was saved by Cruz Azul’s goalkeeper Andres Gudiño. Cruz Azul missed a great chance when Carlos Rotondi got the ball in the area, but instead of shooting he incredibly decided to pass the ball. Pumas’ goalkeeper Julio Gonzalez got a hand on it, and the pass went out of reach of Uriel Antuna, who would have had an empty net chance. Cruz Azul started to gain more possession, and took control of the game. Cesar Huerta then made a good run and was brought down by a slide tackle which resulted in the referee giving Pumas a penalty kick. Huerta would step up to take the penalty, but with a bad low shot, gave it straight to Gudiño. Gudiño was judged to have not been on the line however, and the penalty was taken again. This time Huerta took a lot better right footed shot, slotting it past Gudiño and giving Pumas the 1-0 lead. Cruz Azul answered however when Carlos Rodriguez got off a volley that Gonzalez made a good save on. Cruz Azul kept trying to get the tying goal, and gained more possession as Pumas sat back. Willer Ditta got off a right footed shot from outside the area, but it went just wide. Off of a corner kick, Dinenno got into the path of the ball as Gonzalez dove too early, which allowed the ball to fall right to Sepulveda. Sepulveda slid into the ball and scored into the empty net to give Cruz Azul the 1-1 tie. The halftime whistle blew with the score even.
The second half started with Pumas subbing out Juan Ignacio Dinenno and Rodrigo Lopez for Robert Ergas and Santiago Trigos. Sepulveda got real close to scoring when he got the ball after a throw in into the area and got past Gonzalez, but his right footed shot went just wide. After Cruz Azul gave up the ball, Cesar Huerta got it, got past a defender and got off a marvelous left footed shot that went past Gudiño and into the net for an incredible goal that gave Pumas the 2-1 lead. It as an amazing play from Huerta that showed that his level of play continues even after missing the Queretaro match because of a suspension. Cruz Azul subbed out Angel Sepulveda and Rodrigo Huescas for Diber Cambindo and Moises. A cross into the area was just headed wide from close range by Rotondi. Pumas answered with Fernandez finding Huerta in the area, but his right footed shot went right to Gudiño. Pumas subbed out Pablo Monroy and Eduardo Salvio for Pablo Bennevendo and Arturo Ortiz. After a counter by Fernandez was wasted by Ergas, the ball was cleared into the path of Ulises Rivas, who got off a great left footed shot that was deflected by Ditta past Gudiño and into the net for a great goal that gave Pumas the 3-1 lead. Pumas then almost had a great counter when Huerta went on a one-on-two before being brought down, but nothing was called. Off of a free kick, Pumas surprised by making a dummy play that ended with a shot deflecting into the path of Fernandez, who headed it right to Nathan. The defender was able to get the ball and get off a right footed shot past Gudiño for a surprising goal that gave Pumas a 4-1 lead. Cruz Azul subbed out Carlos Rotondi and Carlos Rodriguez for Alexis Gutierrez and Kevin Castaño. Pumas meanwhile subbed out Adrian Aldrete for Christian Tabo. A cross off a free kick was headed by Cambindo, but Gonzalez was able to save it. The ball ended up crashing into the post, but an offside was called, ending the play. Cruz Azul then subbed out Uriel Antuna for Amaury Morales. A cross by Fernandez turned to a shot that was saved by Gudiño. A cross into the area was cleared by Gonzalez before it got to a Cruz Azul attacker. Off of a free kick, Jose Rivero got off a great shot, but Gonzalez came up with a great save.
After a disappointing loss against Club America, in a match were they were the inferior side although not as outplayed as most teams so far in the Apertura 2023 when they played America, Pumas has bounced back with two great results. First they went and crushed Queretaro at home in a match were they were the better team but benefit from Queretaro going down to ten players. On the other hand, there was no benefit against Cruz Azul, who not only were a better team than Queretaro and the match was away, but they are a city rival which will please their fans a lot to hold such a big victory over Cruz Azul’s fan base. Cruz Azul continues to struggle at home, with a game where they were the slightly better side in the second half, but once Huerta’s great goal went in they crumbled. Pumas will hope they don’t lose their momentum after the FIFA date for a tough home match against Monterrey, while Cruz Azul will have an even tougher task as they travel to face Tigres, in a match they should be the heavy underdogs.