Copa MX: Pumas end 36-year drought in Guadalajara

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - FEBRUARY 25: Fans of Pumas cheer for their team during the 9th round match between Pumas UNAM and Chivas as part of the Torneo Clausura 2018 Liga MX at Olimpico Universitario Stadium on February 25, 2018 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - FEBRUARY 25: Fans of Pumas cheer for their team during the 9th round match between Pumas UNAM and Chivas as part of the Torneo Clausura 2018 Liga MX at Olimpico Universitario Stadium on February 25, 2018 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images) /

The Pumas ended their Chivas curse to advance in the Apertura 2018 Copa MX. They are joined by the Tigres and Querétaro while the Monterrey-Zacatepec Round of 16 match was rained out.

Chivas 1, Pumas 3

Guadalajara had not lost at home to UNAM since Feb. 7, 1982, and Wednesday’s setback knocked the Chivas out of the Copa.

The Chivas went after a goal right from the opening kickoff, knocking the Pumas back on their heels, forcing a save and earning a corner kick. They maintained possession in their attacking half nearly the entire first 2 minutes of the match.

Guadalajara regrouped for another charge, trying to open up space and retreated down the left flank but the Pumas chased. When Chivas left fullback Alejandro Zendejas tried to return to offense, his pass was deflected by Juan Iturbe right into the path of UNAM striker Matías Alustiza who had a head start on his marker, stepped into the box and fired underneath goalie Miguel Jiménez.

Despite the stunning development, the Chivas quickly regrouped and evened the score in minute 10 when Alan Pulido headed home from in close off a nifty low cross from Zendejas. Guadalajara even had a goal disallowed – correctly – for offside and the Chivas remained aggressive while UNAM absorbed the pressure, looking for counterattacking opportunities.

Pulido blasted a shot from the top of the box in minute 15 that trickled through the legs of Pumas goalie Alfonso Zaldívar but the keeper was able to scramble back and swat the ball clear just before it rolled past the goal line. Video replays showed it was extremely close but the assistant referee got the call right.

In minute 40, the Pumas’ reliance on long-distance shots paid off as Brian Figueroa curled home a beauty of a goal from 25 meters. The 19-year-old midfielder gained control above the left corner of the box with space. He stepped to his right as a defender approached but still had time to let fly and his shot nestled into the netting just inside the top right corner of the goalposts.

The Pumas displayed solid defensive tactics the remainder of the game, showing poise under pressure and patience in clearing their defensive zone with possession, just enough to make the Chivas chase to try to recover the ball as the clock continued to click. Guadalajara never seriously came close to equalizing.

In injury time, the Pumas mounted another counter and Figueroa rifled a low centering pass from the right flank. The ball took an odd bounce as defender Benjamín Galindo tried to clear the cross but it banked off his shin and into the net behind his keeper.

The 13th-seeded Pumas advance to a quarterfinal match-up at No. 12 seed León, a 2-0 winner over No. 5 seed Necaxa.

Tigres 4, Puebla 0

The Tigres roared to life against a hapless Puebla side that failed to take chance of early opportunities when the game was still in doubt.

The first 5 minutes of the match were spent in front of the Puebla net but twice the Tigres scuffed clear shots at goal. Then, two terrible errors led to scoring chances for Puebla but the Camoteros misfired both times. Tigres goalie Nahuel Guzmán was forced to make a tough save on a shot from distance by Paco Acuña before the 10-minute mark, but that was about the high-water mark for Puebla.

In minute 17, Edu Vargas sent Juergen Damm into the box and the speedy winger eluded one tackle, stepped inside another defender then fired high inside the far post from a sharp angle to open the scoring.

Five minutes later, Ismael Sosa zipped a low cross between the defense and the goalie and Enner Valencia volleyed home from in close. Less than a quarter-hour later, Vargas found space at the top of the box to right of goal and fired a low shot inside the left post as Puebla defenders failed to cut down his opening.

Early in the second half, Vargas swiped a poor back pass and dribbled to the touch-line taking two defenders with him then cut back a chipped cross that Julián Quiñones chested home from the doorstep.

The result sends the 7th-seeded Tigres into a quarterfinal match-up next week at No. 2 seed Pachuca. The two teams played an entertaining 1-1 draw at Estadio Hidalgo in Matchday 9.

Querétaro 2, Dorados 1

The Gallos Blancos disposed of an underwhelming second-division Sinaloa team, but they benefited from the presence of Diego Maradona by raising ticket prices for the match at Estadio Corregidora.

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Maradona was on the sideline for his third game as coach of Sinaloa but there was little he could do. The Dorados – in 12th place in the 15-team Ascenso MX – just don’t have the roster to compete against Liga MX squads.

Camilo Sanvezzo scored twice before the 20-minute mark to put Querétaro in command and the home team basically ran out the clock thereafter. Sinaloa managed to narrow the final margin by scoring in injury time.

The Gallos Blancos await the winner of the Monterrey-Zacatepec match in the quarterfinals. Monterrey’s Estadio BBVA Bancomer became a swimming pool before the game started and the presence of electrical storms made it an easy decision to postpone the match. Zacatepec aims to join Juárez as the lone Ascenso MX teams in the quarterfinals.