América finally made its Clausura 2019 debut; Lobos and Tiburones battled to put off demotion concerns.
América opened its title defense with a 2-0 stroll in the park against Atlas, while Lobos BUAP kicked Veracruz deeper into the relegation zone with a 1-0 road win, meaning the upstarts awoke Saturday morning to find they are Liga MX super leaders. For the time being, anyway.
América did not truly extend itself against an outmatched Atlas squad (and the number of Aguilas fans in the Estadio Jalisco stands made it seem like a home game). Coach Miguel Herrera simply called on winger Cecilio Domínguez to unpack his bags and report to work. And the Paraguayan responded with a Man of the Match performance.
Domínguez was all set to report to Argentina’s Independiente when “El Piojo” realized he was short an attacker (injuries to Roger Martinez, Jeremy Menez and Mateus Uribe, plus the sale of Diego Lainez to Real Betis, left América short-handed). América postponed the sale and told Cecilio to put on a jersey. And there he was in the starting line-up.
Domínguez was a constant threat in the first half, creating several scoring chances including a low pass across the goal mouth less than 5 minutes into the match.
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Early in the second half, Renato Ibarra stole the ball as Atlas tried to clear the zone, knocking it right into the path of Henry Martin who touched it once then slotted home under pressure for a 1-0 lead in minute 52. Seventeen minutes later, Cecilio made a 70-meter diagonal run from the left sideline toward the half moon, then let fly from 28 meters. The ball ricocheted off Atlas defender Omar Gonzalez and into the net. 2-0 Aguilas. Game over.
Well, not quite. Former América star blasted home a volley from outside the box in minute 90, causing a brief scare.
Veracruz 0, Lobos BUAP 1
The Lobos bought their way back into the league in summer 2018, paying the FMF $6 million dollars to avoid relegation to Ascenso MX. This season, they intend to remain in Liga MX because of how they perform on the field.
Fiery striker Leo Ramos was the hero again, one-timing a nifty volleyed pass from Bryan Rabello. The Argentine muscled his way into the top of the box and left-footed the looping pass such that it spun and skipped just inside the goalie’s left post. Veracruz keeper Sebastián Jurado had no chance of stopping it.
On the other end, Lobos goalie José Antonio Gonzalez had a solid match, making three saves to preserve the clean sheet.
The Lobos now move to 6 points from 2 games, atop the leaderboard pending the results of this weekend’s 7 remaining games.