Liga MX: Match 13 – Pumas tie Tigres behind González hat trick

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - OCTOBER 21: Carlos Gonzalez of Pumas celebrates a scored goal during the 13th round match between Pumas UNAM and Tigres UANL as part of the Torneo Apertura 2018 Liga MX at Olimpico Universitario Stadium on October 21, 2018 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images)
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - OCTOBER 21: Carlos Gonzalez of Pumas celebrates a scored goal during the 13th round match between Pumas UNAM and Tigres UANL as part of the Torneo Apertura 2018 Liga MX at Olimpico Universitario Stadium on October 21, 2018 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images) /

The Pumas and Tigres put on a splendid offensive display at Estadio Olimpico Universitario on Sunday, while the Chivas stumbled again in their bid to sneak into the playoffs.

Off the pitch, Necaxa fired coach Marcelo Michel with four games remaining. The “wunderkind” went 6-3-9 in 18 games (league and Cup) in charge of the Rayos and the current 4-game winless streak was enough for Necaxa officials to wield the axe.

The VAR (video assistant referee) was in use for the first time in Liga MX history and it posted a 50% mark: Four times the referee went to the video over the weekend and twice the on-field ruling was changed. The VAR was also involved in a player-dismissal for the first time.

Pumas 3, Tigres 3

Carlos González recorded a hat trick for the Pumas in an exciting 3-3 game whose pace was dampened by a steady rain that began just after the hour mark. UNAM again proved it is for real, holding on to 4th place with the tie. The Tigres, on the other hand, remain just inside the top 8 and with a favorable schedule that should allow them to clinch a playoff spot with room to spare.

The two teams put on a real offensive show, featuring smooth teamwork and outstanding individual efforts, and combining for 16 shots on net, several of the spectacular variety.

González – signed over the summer from Necaxa – had scored only three times all season before Sunday’s match, but he got the Pumas on the board in minute 7 by slamming home a rebound from 8 meters out. Pablo Barrera – a game-long menace – sent Felipe Mora in the box right of goal but his first shot was smothered by Hugo Ayala and his follow-up was blocked by onrushing goalie Nahuel Guzmán, but the rebound fell to the unmarked González.

Fifteen minutes later, Edu Vargas smashed a right-footer from 35 meters that zipped over Pumas keeper Alfredo Zaldívar and the score was knotted at 1.

Rafael Durán out the Tigres up in minute 32 when Pumas defender Alan Mendoza was caught napping, keeping the 21-year-old Tigres striker onside.

González knotted the score just before halftime, the beneficiary of a brilliant play by Barrera. The Pumas skipper gathered a clearance, dropped it to fullback Alan Mozo then headed for the box. Mozo chipped a lovely ball forward that Barrera, still running, watched come over his right shoulder then hit a soft volley into the middle of the box where González one-timed it inside the far post. A stunning goal.

The Tigres didn’t show signs of being knocked off-stride by giving up a goal at the halftime whistle as Pierre-André Gignac scored just after the restart. The Frenchman punched home a sweet pass from winger Javier Aquino for his 10th goal of the season, tied for the league lead with Julio Furch of Santos.

González leveled for Pumas in minute 62 after Barrera ran into space on the right flank and latched onto a pass from Mozo. With time to pick out he target, Barrera lofted a pinpoint cross that González headed home. Tigres defender Ayala badly misjudged the cross and González was unmolested just behind him for the equalizer.

The Pumas are in 4th place with 23 points, ahead of Monterrey on goal difference, while the Tigres are in 7th with 19 points, ahead of Querétaro on goal difference.

Next week, UNAM visits 6th-place Toluca, while the Tigres host 16th-place Lobos.

Lobos BUAP 1, Chivas 1

Former Chivas goalie José Antonio Rodríguez tormented his old mates with a dazzling performance between the pipes, making 5 world-class saves to deny Guadalajara a much-needed victory.

Leonardo Ramos put the host Lobos on top in minute 12 (just moments after Rodríguez’s first eye-catching save). As Rodríguez and the Lobos defense continued to frustrate the visitors, it seemed like the Chivas’ playoff hopes were disappearing by the minute, in the midst of a 5-game winless streak.

Hedgardo Marín finally got the equalizer early in the second half when a headed pass off a corner kick came to him at the far post and he was able to nod home.

Guadalajara coaches will be nervous the next few days as midfield stalwarts Michael Pérez and Orbelín Pineda – both of whom have missed extensive time due to injury – were subbed out. Pérez left after only 16 minutes while Pineda came off at halftime. Without these two – and the still sidelined Javier López – the Chivas will struggle to earn a playoff berth.

The Chivas – now in 11th place – return home to face Morelia who leapfrogged them into 9th place with their win over Puebla.

Morelia 2, Puebla 0

The Monarcas edged back into playoff contention with this hard-fought win over the Camoteros. Sebastián Vega and Miguel Sansores tallied second-half goals to earn the Monarcas 3 critical points as they struggle to recover from an extended mid-season slump.

In minute 57, Vegas fired a free kick over the defensive wall that dipped at the near post and goalie Nicolás Vikonis could not keep it out. Sansores added to the lead three minutes later when he raced onto a headed through pass and chipped the goalie from 22 meters.

Morelia has now won 2 in a row after a 6-game winless streak saw them sink into 15th place. The 9th-place Monarcas visit 11th-place Guadalajara in a critical Matchday 14 clash next weekend

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Monterrey 2, Toluca 1

Jesús Gallardo and rookie Daniel Lajud scored late to overturn a 1-0 deficit and keep injury-riddled Monterrey firmly in the playoff mix.

Defender Osvaldo González had put visiting Toluca ahead with a goal in minute 50 that was confirmed by ref Fernando Guerrero after he consulted the video to make sure González was not offside.

Gallardo scored off an assist from Dorlan Pabón in minute 73 and the 19-year-old Lajud scored the winner in minute 85 when he pounced on an ill-advised back pass and fired home from the top of the box.

Toluca skipper Rubens Sambueza was ejected for a clattering tackle in minute 90+4 after ref Guerrero checked the video to make sure his red-card decision was correct. It was.