Pumas started their Clausura 2024 season with a win after defeating FC Juárez by a 1-0 score. In a controversial match filled with mistakes by Referee Mario Terrazas, Pumas were able to secure the 3 points after being the better team through most of it and overcoming being down to 10 players. They’ll now travel to face San Luis on Friday while FC Juárez head home to face Cruz Azul that same day.
The first half started with Guillermo Martinez making his Pumas debut. After a bad backpass, Pumas almost gave up an own goal, but keeper Julio Gonzalez was able to clear the ball and save his team. Off a corner kick, Martinez was able to get off a header that hit the post. In the ensuing play, Gustavo del Prete seemed to have been dropped by Diego Chavez, but no foul was given. After receiving the ball in the area, Aviles Hurtado got off a left-footed shot that was saved by Gonzalez. While Pumas had control of the possession, they were struggling to create chances as the team clearly haven’t gelled with Martinez yet. In injury time, Hurtado fell in the area, but nothing was given. Replays showed however, that Hurtado was the one that crashed into Lisandro Magallan’s leg. The halftime whistle blew and although Pumas had been the better team, the match remained scoreless.
The second half started with Pumas subbing out Gustavo del Prete and Santiago Trigos for Rogelio Funes Mori and Jose Caicedo. While most people would be paying attention at Funes Mori making his Pumas debut, it shouldn’t take away from Del Prete once again having a poor performance. A cross into the area was just missed by Funes Mori as he tried to head the ball. Caicedo would get off a right-footed shot from outside the area, but it would go wide.
Hurtado then made a good run and got past Gonzalez, but Jesus Rivas cleared the ball before a Juárez attacker could get to an empty net chance. Off a corner kick, Martinez got off a great header, but Juárez keeper Sebastian Jurado made an outstanding save. After making a move, Cesar Huerta got a great cross into the area where Eduardo Salvio volleyed it past Jurado and into the net to score and give Pumas the 1-0 lead.
Off a counter, Nathan brought down Hurtado and got a yellow. After going to VAR and seeing that he was the last man and it was a clear goal opportunity, the ref decided to give Nathan the red card. By doing so, he was the first ref to implement the new Liga MX VAR system where the ref explains his decision through the speakers. After getting the ball in the area, Funes Mori would score with a left-footed shot, but was correctly ruled to be offside. After getting a cross in the area, Martinez got a header that hit the post, but instead of letting the ball drop, he volleyed it well wide. The problem was that Funes Mori was right behind him and would have had a wide open chance had Martinez not tried for the wonder goal.
FC Juárez went on the offense to look for that tying goal as they tried to take advantage of having the extra player. In the final minutes, a great counter attack that ended with Funes Mori finding Cesar Huerta, whose shot got past Jurado and into the net was incredibly called off for a previous foul after a VAR review. Pumas would still hold on to get their victory and the winning start to their season.
Pumas were the better team for most of the match in a game riddled with referee mistakes. FC Juárez could have gotten a PK call in the first half that wasn’t given and Pumas should have had a second goal given that was wrongly called back for a non-existent foul. The only right call of the match, the red card to Nathan, was also missed by Terrazas, who shows a lack of promise for the future. Still, Pumas got the deserved result and players like Martinez and Funes Mori looked good in their debut with the team. The home side also did well in overcoming going down to 10 players, which is a plus for a team that has struggled mightily when put insaid scenario, although not getting to that should be worked on. Pumas will have a tough match on Friday when they travel north to face Atlético San Luis while FC Juárez will make their home debut against Cruz Azul.