Favorites stumble as Liga MX hits FIFA break

MONTERREY, MEXICO - JULY 29: Aviles Hurtado of Monterrey reacts during the 2nd round match between Monterrey and Veracruz as part of the Torneo Apertura 2017 Liga MX at BBVA Bancomer Stadium on July 29, 2017 in Monterrey, Mexico. (Photo by Alfredo Lopez/LatinContent/Getty Images)
MONTERREY, MEXICO - JULY 29: Aviles Hurtado of Monterrey reacts during the 2nd round match between Monterrey and Veracruz as part of the Torneo Apertura 2017 Liga MX at BBVA Bancomer Stadium on July 29, 2017 in Monterrey, Mexico. (Photo by Alfredo Lopez/LatinContent/Getty Images) /

Lots of movement in the Liga MX table as Week 8 provided upsets galore, questionable refereeing (again) and no tie games. The second, third and fourth place teams all lost, Pachuca snapped the Chivas’ five-game winning streak and the Pumas ended a six-game winless streak with an impressive road win.

Liga MX will take a week off for the upcoming FIFA dates and the next round of games kick off on Sept. 14.

Cruz Azul 4, Veracruz 1

The Cementeros remained unbeaten and are now 4 points clear at the top of the table as Elías Hernández provided a goal and an assist while Roberto Alvarado celebrated his first call-up to the senior national team with a nifty goal to open the scoring.

The Cruz Azul goal should not have counted, however, as Édgar Méndez failed to keep the ball inbounds before cutting it back inside to Milton Caraglio who found Alvarado moving down the center of the pitch. Alvarado knocked it ahead to Elías who chipped back into Alvarado’s path with the outside of his right boot and the 19-year-old one-timed a left-footer inside the right post to give the Cementeros the lead in minute 34.

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Ref Roberto García Orozco made it up to Veracruz in minute 46 when he whistled an invisible penalty which Bryan Carrasco converted. The Cruz Azul defense caused the confusion inside the box when Gerry Flores tried a clearance which banged off teammate Iván Marcone and trickled back toward the goal. Keeper Jesús Corona dashed off his line and lunged but held back as Veracruz striker Cristian Menéndez approached. Menéndez fell in a heap and García Orozco awarded the dive with the spot kick.

Two minutes later, Menéndez almost gave the Tiburones the lead but his diving header ricocheted off the post and was cleared by Flores.

Elías responded in minute 56 with a brilliant solo effort. He controlled a lofted pass, spun quickly to shake the trailing defender, touched toward the center, then ripped a looping liner from 25 meters that Veracruz goalie Pedro Gallese could only get his fingertips on.

In minute 70, Alvarado found space on the left flank and lifted a long cross over the defense to Caraglio who was lurking unmarked at the back post. The big Argentine headed home from a sharp angle to put Cruz Azul up 3-1.

Veracruz defender Rodrigo Noya knocked the ball into his own net in minute 77 to complete the scoring.

Puebla 2, Monterrey 1

Lowly Puebla stunned second place Monterrey with an injury time goal though the Rayados remain in second place.

The Rayados scored just before halftime when Avilés Hurtado sprung Luis Guillermo Madrigal into the left side of the box with a nifty through pass that beat Puebla’s offside trap and Madrigal stepped over the ball to get to his right foot then calmly whacked it into the far side netting.

Puebla had a goal incorrectly disallowed in minute 62 when ref Fernando Guerrero decided the ball had crossed the sideline before it was dropped off to Cristian Tabó who rifled it into the net.

Not to be denied, Tabó knotted things up in minute 69 with a shot from almost exactly the same spot. Rayados midfielder Rodolfo Pizarro was dribbling while retreating inside his own penalty area when Eduardo Loroña picked his pocket, Francisco Acuña swooped in and passed the loose ball to Tabó moving across the half-moon and the Uruguayan cut the ball back inside the far post.

Three minutes into injury time, Lucas Cavallini came up with a spectacular winner. Tabó squared to Alejandro Chumacero who was racing into the box and he chipped it toward the penalty spot where Cavallini hooked it with his back foot, deflecting it forward than hustled to slot home before goalie Marcelo Barovero could get there.

Morelia 1, Querétaro 4

In the league’s most lopsided home loss of the season, the Gallos Blancos splashed their way to an impressive win as Camilo Sanvezzo scored twice before the hour mark. Querétaro cut open the usually disciplined Monarcas defense to get six shots on goal and Sanvezzo was a constant headache.

Querétaro’s 17-year-old starlet Marcel Ruiz split the defense worth a pass from inside the center circle in minute 42, Sanvezzo raced to it at the top of the box and fired low far side to open the scoring.

Ruiz supplied Sanvezzo again in minute 56, chipping over a defender as Sanvezzo made a diagonal run. The Brazilian striker collected the ball and turned into the box to the right of goalie Sebastián Sosa, fended off defender Emanuel Loeschbor, then dragged the ball around Sosa (a la Romario) and slotted home into the empty net.

Then came the deluge … and things did not get any better for the Monarcas. In minute 85, Querétaro yo-yoed the ball from one side of the box to the other, completely befuddling the Morelia defense until Gael Acosta swooped in to knock home an easy goal.

Morelia scored in minute 90 but the Gallos Blancos responded less than a minute later for the final score. With the loss Morelia falls from fourth place to ninth while the Gallos Blancos climbed from seventh to sixth.

León 1, Pumas 2

UNAM recovered from last week’s embarrassing last-minute tie to nine-man América with a sturdy performance on the road against surging León.

Felipe Mora scored twice to help the Pumas overcome an early goal by Luis Montes and take the pressure off coach David Patiño.

Montes volleyed home from point-blank range in minute 15, culminating a beautiful León possession. Mauro Boselli sent a lead pass down the left flank and midfielder José Rodríguez chased it down and fired a low cross from deep along the sideline. The ball cleared Boselli who had attracted two defenders to the near post and Montes was all alone.

Just before halftime, the Pumas strike tandem struck for the equalizer. Right fullback Alan Mozo centered to Carlos González who, with his back to goal while standing at the top of the half-moon, neatly redirected the pass into the box as Mora cut across in front of him. Mora tracked it down and crisply rippled the net behind goalie Rodolfo Cota.

In minute 57, Pablo Barrera fired from long distance but the shot was deflected perpendicularly across the top of the box to Mora and he was able to control and blast home before Cota or the León defense could react.

UNAM moves from sixth to fourth with the win which also snaps a six-game winless streak (league and Copa), while León remains in 11th.

Chivas 1, Pachuca 3

Despite losing their captain to PSV Eindhoven just days earlier, Pachuca outplayed the streaking Chivas with Franco Jara stepping forward in a starring role.

Guadalajara came into the match with a five-game winning streak (league and Copa) and Ángel Saldívar skipped a shot off the crossbar in minute 6, then Orbelín Pineda fired just wide two minutes later.

Seconds after that, Jara put the Tuzos on the scoreboard, hustling to a rebound off a free kick and punching it into the back of the net. It was a double blow for the Chivas because bulldog midfielder Michael Pérez got injured on the play and he missed the remainder of the match.

Saldívar equalized just before the half hour as he collected a loose ball inside the goalie box and quickly thumped the ball home. José Eduardo López had crossed to Walter Gael Sandoval at the back past and his volley was deflected right in front of goal where Saldívar was first on the scene.

That was the high point of the night for the Chivas although they enjoyed 66% possession. The Tuzos were extremely efficient when on offense getting 8 of their 12 shots on goal.

Pachuca took the lead less than 3 minutes after the score was tied when Jara forced a huge mistake by Chivas goalie Miguel Jiménez. Jara pressed the keeper near the touchline inside the box and when Jiménez tried to fool him with a lateral pass, Jara blocked it, shielded off Jiménez’s attempt to recover the ball, then slipped a pass right in front of goal to Pablo César López who calmly slotted the ball past scrambling defender Jair Perreira.

Jara earned his second of the night in minute 71 when he headed home at the back post off a cross from Víctor Guzmán.

The result saw the two teams trade places as the Tuzos climbed from 12th to 10th and the Chivas went from 10th to 12th.

Toluca 2, Santos 1

The host Diablos Rojos overcame a 3rd-minutes goal by Julio Furch and got a boost – and the winning goal – from Rubens Sambueza who returned from injury after five weeks on the sidelines.

Furch advanced a long clearance with his head and Johan Rodríguez raced to gather it, paused, then slipped a square pass back to Furch who was following up. Furch’s initial shot was blocked by defender Fernando Tobio but it settled right at Furch’s feet and he quickly left-footed the ball into the far side of the net.

The two teams moved swiftly up and down the field the entire game, with Toluca’s fullbacks pushing forward at every opportunity.

Toluca knotted the score 10 minutes later off a throw in. Enrique Triverio trapped the throw inside the box, then retreated out but neatly dropped off a pass to Willian da Silva charging forward. Da Silva quickly dribbled past two Santos defenders then let fly with a worm-burner as two other defenders closed in. The shot slammed into the netting inside the far post.

Toluca’s captain Sambueza subbed in at minute 55 and nearly contributed to a goal right off the bat with a slick through pass.

In minute 62, Santos defender rashly chopped down Luis Quiñones as he chased a ball toward the touch-line. Sambueza converted the ensuing penalty to give the Diablos a 2-1 lead that stood up the rest of the game.

With the loss, Santos fell from third to fifth, while Toluca remains in eighth place.

Lobos BUAP 0, América 2

The Águilas climbed into third place after a workmanlike victory over cellar-dwelling Lobos with Oribe Peralta scoring for the third time in four matches.

América did just enough to win, getting on the board in minute 30 when Peralta was left alone to bounce home a loose ball that had careened into the area off a cross by Matheus Uribe.

Uribe converted a penalty in injury time for the final score.

Tigres 3, Atlas 1

Atlas recorded its first goal of the season after being shut out in each of the first seven games of the season, but the Tigres finally woke up in the second half to score with three headers within 20 minutes to clinch the victory.

Andrés Andrade weaved his way through five Tigres defenders, dribbling from the right flank into the center of the box before slotting home only 70 seconds after the opening whistle.

A Tigres victory seemed inevitable as the hosts pressed forward throughout, but Atlas keeper José Hernández was spectacular, making 11 saves, including three spectacular blocks in the first half.

Tigres defender Jorge Torres Nilo finally woke up the sleeping tiger, heading home off a corner kick in minute 67. André-Pierre Gignac nodded home his league-leading sixth nine minutes later (also off a corner kick) and Enner Valencia powered home a header in minute 86 to finish off the match.

Read. Leon and Necaxa are a study in contrast. light

Tijuana 1, Necaxa 0

This was a game between the gang that couldn’t shoot straight vs the Not-so-Magnificent-Eleven.

Necaxa took aim 20 times but only hit the target four times  but only one of the four tested Xolos keeper Manuel Lajud. Tijuana was effective moving with possession through midfield, but always seemed to stumble when finding themselves in the offensive third.

Miler Bolaños put the Xolos ended six weeks of misery with a beauty of a goal in minute 86, ending Tijuana’s six-game winless streak. Necaxa’s woes continue and the Rayos now find themselves in 15th place.