Liga MX: América hands Rayados first loss; Toluca gets helping hand from ref

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - AUGUST 11: Bruno Valdez of America celebrates after scoring the second goal of his team with with teammate Edson Alvarez during the fourth round match between Club America and Monterrey as part of the Torneo Apertura 2018 Liga MX at Azteca Stadium on August 11, 2018 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images)
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - AUGUST 11: Bruno Valdez of America celebrates after scoring the second goal of his team with with teammate Edson Alvarez during the fourth round match between Club America and Monterrey as part of the Torneo Apertura 2018 Liga MX at Azteca Stadium on August 11, 2018 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

Saturday was a tough day for Monterrey-based teams as the Rayados lost their first game of the young Liga MX season, routed by América, while the Tigres lost their first home game in nearly two years as Toluca upset them 2-1 at Estadio Universitario.

First-half red cards took the luster off these two highly anticipated matches and, depending on Sunday’s results, América could find itself in first place when Week 4 comes to a close in Tijuana.

Elsewhere Saturday, León trounced Querétaro and Lobos BUAP played Atlas to a scoreless draw.

América 3, Monterrey 0

Monterrey fell behind 1-0 in minute 23 when winger Jonathan Urretavizcaya made an awful diagonal clearance pass that was ricocheted in the opposite direction when América midfielder Guido Rodríguez intercepted it, heading the ball right into the path of Roger Martínez.

The Rayados defense was caught flat-footed as they were coming out of their zone when the sudden change of possession occurred. Before the two central defenders could react, Martínez dashed by them and crisply left-footed across his body sending the ball inside the right post.

Six minutes later, Monterrey was down to 10 men when John Stefan Medina earned his second yellow card and the visitors had their work cut out for them the remainder of the game. The conditions of the Estadio Azteca pitch did not help either as the turf is a veritable mess, making ball control difficult and causing rolling passes to bounce erratically.

Monterrey goalie Marco Barovero was tested for the rest of the game, making several sterling saves to preserve hopes of a tie, especially after Rayados striker Avilés Hurtado came close in minute 42.

That all changed early in the second half right after Barovero made a magical stop of an Oribe Peralta shot from point-blank range. Off the ensuing corner kick, defender José María Basanta completely lost his man and Bruno Valdez rammed home a header at the near post, making it 2-0 América.

In minute 84, Andrés Ibarguen converted a penalty giving the Águilas their second straight 3-goal game in league play and a spot in second place. The result means UNAM and Cruz Azul are the only remaining undefeated teams and if they both lose Sunday, América will take top spot in the league.

Tigres 1, Toluca 2

The Tigres saw their 29-game home unbeaten streak come to an end with much of the damage coming from ref Roberto García Orozco.

André-Pierre Gignac badly scuffed a point-blank shot at net in minute 2 then spoiled another clear opportunity with a mis-hit backheel that deflected a cross away from teammate Jesús Dueñas who was unmarked right behind him.

The French striker made up for his miscues in minute 15, flicking home a header at the near post off a perfect cross from Juergen Damm (the speedy winger was forced off the pitch injured only 20 minutes later, but that was the least of the Tigres’ problems).

Toluca had been chopping at the Tigres early in the game, and the ref ignored Tigres players calls that yellow cards be shown.

In minute 17, Toluca forward Enrique Triverio smacked Tigres defender Jorge Torres Nilo in the face with an elbow, drawing rivers of blood. Only a yellow was shown. Five minutes later, Guido Pizarro sought to clear space while being hounded by Luis Mendoza and when the Toluca player flopped to the ground, ref García Orozco reached for his red card. It was, frankly, a terrible decision.

The home team held on to the halftime whistle but a second-half tactical adjustment by Tigres coach Tuca Ferretti blew up in his face and Toluca turned the tide for the win.

Tuca replaced forward Lucas Zelarayán with defender Juninho and utilized a five-man defensive line, moving winger Javier Aquino into the middle of the field. The result was the visitors had more space and the Tigres had no outlets to transition to offense which meant the defense was under tremendous pressure.

Triverio (who should have been red-carded if the Pizarro foul was worth expulsion) scored in minute 53 to knot the score and William da Silva netted the game-winner 10 minutes later.

The game went from bad to worse for the Tigres (again, thanks to ref García Orozco) in minute 70 when Aquino was shown two quick yellow cards for yelling at the arbiter. Aquino was hacked down while in possession and he leaped up screaming that a yellow should be shown to the culprit. Instead, the ref carded Aquino and when the Tigres player animatedly demonstrated his disagreement, García Orozco showed him another yellow. The Tigres finished the game with nine men.

It will be no surprise if García Orozco is disciplined for his dreadful performance by the League Refereeing Committee.

Toluca will be pleased with the 3 points despite playing without midfield ace Rubens Sambueza (out for four weeks with a leg injury) and without starting goalie Alfredo Talavera who is on a two-game suspension for the red card he received last week.

León 4, Querétaro 0

The Esmeraldas finally roared awake in Week 4, recording their first win of the season with a dominating performance against a sluggish Gallos Blancos side. León peppered Querétaro keeper Tiago Volpi with 10 shots on goal and took control of the game from the start.

Defender Andrés Mosquera scored in minute 10, banging home a rebound after a fantastic save by Volpi off a header from Pedro Aquino. Not a single Querétaro defender followed up the play and Mosquera was unmolested as he popped the ball into the net.

The Gallos Blancos had a moment of life 15 minutes later when Matías Britos smacked a header off the crossbar as León goalie Rodolfo Cota could only watch.

Yairo Moreno made it 2-0 for León in minute 35 rising to head home at the back post after Luis Montes’ free kick had been headed over the scrum of players gathered at the penalty spot.

Maxi Cerato pushed the score to 3-0 in minute 55 with a goal from an impossible angle that ricocheted off the far post just below the crossbar. Luis Montes closed out the scoring in minute 90 finishing a play that saw him touch the ball three times as León weaved through the Gallos Blancos defense. Mauro Boselli provided the assist, squaring the ball through two defenders for Montes to tap home at the back post.

Lobos BUAP 0, Atlas 0

The less said about this game, the better. Atlas has not scored a single goal through the first four weeks of the season and the Lobos squandered a penalty when Colin Kazim-Richards blasted the spot kick off the right post.

Atlas flubbed three clear scoring chances (errant shots) and Lobos goalie José Antonio Rodríguez made three brilliant saves. The hosts almost got a freak win when a shot by Abraham González went right through Atlas keeper José Hernández’s hands but barely crawled over the crossbar.


Morelia 2, Necaxa 1

Morelia coach Roberto Hernández put together a brilliant game plan and his Monarcas executed it perfectly to earn a well-deserved win at home.

The home team played a disciplined defensive line-up, sitting back and absorbing pressure and occasionally setting aggressive two-man traps to isolate the ball. This had the effect of shutting off Necaxa’s preferred route through the middle of the field, clogged up the passing lanes favored by Rayos midfield leader Mati Fernández and produced plenty of turnovers.

The Monarcas squandered their first fast break off a steal in minute 12 when striker Ray Sandoval sprayed a one-on-one effort way wide. Seven minutes later, Efraín Velarde and Rodrigo Millar trapped Necaxa fullback Brayan Beckeles at the right sideline deep in his defensive half, Velarde swiped the ball and rolled it to Diego Valdés who touched it twice then blasted a shot over Hugo González and inside the far post.

Brian Fernández drew Necaxa even in minute 51, slotting home from a splendid assist by Dieter Villalpando, but defender Gabriel Achilier put Morelia back up only 5 minutes later when he shook his marker and headed home unmolested off a Monarcas free kick.

Necaxa had 62% possession and got 19 shots off, forcing 10 saves from Monarcas goalie Sebastián Sosa, though mostly long-range shots due to the organized Morelia defensive formation in front of goal.

More from Viva Liga MX

Puebla 1, Veracruz 2

The visiting Tiburones snatched victory from Puebla, scoring twice late at a near empty Estadio Cuauhtémoc to stun the Camoteros.

Puebla started out fast, hitting the crossbar and forcing Veracruz goalie to tap over the crossbar all in the first 10 minutes. Then Camotero keeper Nicolás Vikonis made two nice saves after the half hour mark.

The home team got on the board shortly after halftime when Vikonis parried a low cross right into the path of onrushing teammate José Arturo Rivas and the ball ricocheted into the net for a 1-0 Puebla lead in minute 53.

Also. Ulloa joins Pachuca. light

With just seven minutes remaining, Cristián “Polaco” Menéndez stepped into the spotlight scoring on a flicked header in minute 83 then powering home a header at the near post in minute 84. In both cases, the Puebla defense was caught napping, failing to mark the forward as he roamed free inside the penalty box. Coach Enrique “Ojitos” Meza will be furious at his team’s loss of concentration, especially at home against a lesser team.