Pumas guaranteed at least a spot in the play in tournament and are a point off getting to the top 6 after defeating Atlas at home by a 3-0 score yesterday. Pumas were the better side over an Atlas team that finished with 10 players because of incompetence on the part of a coaching staff that wasted all their available substitution windows even when they still had a sub. Pumas will hope to book their ticket to the liguilla and skip the play in against Chivas at home on Saturday while Atlas will close out their 2023 at home against Necaxa.
The match started with Pumas coming out with an offensive lineup including having Juan Ignacio Dinenno and Gabriel Fernandez up top. Four minutes into the match, Mauro Manotas looked to have severely injured himself and needed medical attention. He would not return to the match as he was taken directly to the dressing room and Christopher Trejo took his place. Off a corner kick, Dinenno would get a header that was saved by Atlas’ goalkeeper Camilo Vargas. From outside the area, Fernandez got off a long-range shot that forced Vargas to make a good save. Off a free kick, Fernandez would get a close-range header that would go wide. Off a free kick, the cross would be headed by Ulises Rivas and force Vargas to make a good save. Off anpther corner kick, Dinenno would head the ball and Luis Reyes blocked it with his hand and the ref gave Pumas a penalty kick. Juan Ignacio Dinenno stepped up to take the PK and fired it past Vargas’ arms into the net to give Pumas the 1-0 lead.
The last minutes of the half had Atlas taking control of possession as Pumas sat back once they took the lead. Juan Zapata would get off a great shot from outside the area that would go just wide. A long ball into the area was cleared by Pumas’ goalkeeper Julio Gonzalez, but sent right into the path of Trejo, who tried to lob it into the empty net, but it went wide. The half ended with Pumas clearly the better team, to the point where the lead appeared a bit short for what had actually happened on the field.
The second half started as Pumas tried to increase their lead. Off a corner kick, Fernandez got a header from close range that would go wide. After getting a great pass in the area, Jordy Caicedo tried to backheel the ball in, but it went wide. Pumas responded with a great run from Cesar Huerta, who tried to find Dinenno, but the ball was blocked by Anderson Santamaria. The ball was left there and Cesar Huerta got to it before Vargas to score into the empty net and give Pumas the 2-0 lead. Atlas subbed out Rivaldo Lozano for Eduardo Aguirre.
After a quick start from a free kick, Dinenno got a chance to try to lob the ball over Vargas, but it would go over the net. Abraham Bass got off a left-footed shot that went just wide. A great combination play would end with Salvio getting into the area alone and getting off a left-footed shot that was brilliantly saved by Vargas. Atlas subbed out Mateo Garcia and Abraham Bass for Aldo Rocha and Jeremy Marquez. Pumas subbed out Juan Ignacio Dinenno and Ulises Rivas for Robert Ergas and Jesus Molina. After getting injured, Luis Reyes had to come out, but because Atlas had already used all their windows for substitution, they couldn’t make another one and had to play with 10 players. Later it was Anderson Santamaria who looked to be injured, but had to remain in the match. Pumas had a 3 vs 1, but Fernandez made a bad pass that went behind Huerta.
On a great counter, Pumas had a 3 vs 2 attack and ended with Ergas making a pass that Huerta let pass into the path of Gustavo del Prete, who got off a left-footed shot past Vargas and into the net to give Pumas the 3-0 lead. It was a great goal that finally killed the match. With that, the match would end and Pumas booked their ticket to the liguilla.
Pumas were the better team and got a deserved victory against an Atlas side who played terribly and whose coaching staff showed how the team is struggling in every aspect. Pumas’ victory finally returns them to winning form after two disappointing losses against Monterrey and Necaxa before getting a well earned tie against León. Pumas are now guaranteed at worst a 7th place finish, which would have them getting to play the play in series that qualifies the last 3 teams to the Liguilla, but are just a point out of securing a top 6 spot that will have them in the Liguilla directly. They will have a tough match at home against Chivas, but could be expected to be favored in the match. Atlas meanwhile, will end a very disappointing season at home against another disappointing Apertura 2023 team in Necaxa.