América showed they mean to defend their title while Cruz Azul snuck out of “El Volcán” with their first win of the season.
Miguel Herrera has his Aguilas clicking on all cylinders and their easy 3-0 victory over Pachuca cost Pako Ayestarán his job Saturday night. In addition, América showed off an all-new kit that could send fans out to buy the new colors (see photo above).
Last season’s MVP Guido Rodríguez opened the scoring for América just over a quarter-hour into the match thanks to lax marking on a corner kick. Tuzos defender Miguel Tapias hedged inside away from Rodríguez on the far side of the box, but Renato Ibarra’s corner kick soared over the pack and Rodríguez moved in unobstructed at the back post and sent a powerful volley into the back of the net as Tapias arrived late.
Pachuca was able to create some decent scoring chances before halftime (the best resulting in a Franco Jara shot from 20 meters that sailed just wide of the right post). But América put the game to bed shortly after halftime when Henry Martin and Cristián Insaurralde scored in the first six minutes. América coasted to victory, extending their unbeaten streak to 22 games. The Aguilas are 13-9-0 since their last loss (on Aug. 22 at León).
After the game, Tuzos management announced they had sacked Ayestarán after Pachuca was routed for the second time in three games despite spending big in the winter transfer window. The Tuzos are 1-2-0 with 3 goals for and 8 goals against.
Tigres 0, Cruz Azul 1
Don’t ask me how the Cementeros won this game because I’d be hard-pressed to identify a single field player who deserves praise. As usual, goalie Jesús Corona was a stud between the pipes and he made a sparkling save in minute 12 when Enner Valencia fired from just above the penalty spot only to see the keeper parry the shot around his right post.
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Twenty minutes later, Tigres captain Guido Pizarro dragged down Julio César Domínguez inside the box as a free kick sailed toward them. Elías Hernández cleverly slotted home the ensuing penalty kick and Cruz Azul led at the 33-minute mark.
Cementeros coach Pedro Caixinha shook up his line-up after his team started the season 0-1-2. Rafa Baca started in place of Orbelín Pineda and right back José Madueña was benched in favor of Igor Lichnovsky. The result was a scrambling defense, that pestered the Tigres all over the field, but offensive creativity was sorely lacking for Cruz Azul. The Cementeros forced plenty of turnovers and cut off advances effectively most of the night, but their passing was terrible (only 63% success rate on the night) and this allowed the hosts to own possession (68%).
There was little to cheer about for Cruz Azul on offense. Striker Martín Cauteruccio had only one moment all game (but it was a special one, firing a volley from a sharp angle that Tigres goalie Nahuel Guzmán pushed onto the crossbar) while Roberto Alvarado offered up another poor performance, nearly giving up the equalizer when he was stripped of possession inside his own half.
Midfielder Javier Salas had a decent game for the Cementeros but it was nearly ruined by a huge mistake. Salas made a lazy back-pass in the second half and sent Tigres star André-Pierre Gignac racing the other direction. If not for a hustling Lichnovsky, the Frenchman might have tied the score.
Even so, Cruz Azul won at “El Volcán” (the nickname for Estadio Universitario in Monterrey) for the first time since Nov. 5, 2008, and the win will help Caixinha breathe easier.
Querétaro 1, Monterrey 2
Maxi Meza scored his first goal for the Rayados just after full time as 10-man Monterrey avoided a stunning upset.
Gallos Blancos striker Camilo Sanvezzo put the home side up at the half-hour mark when he beat an offside trap and headed home a lovely centering pass from Alexis Pérez. The goal was initially disallowed for offside, but VAR officials correctly overturned the wrong call by the on-field officials.
Ten minutes after halftime, Jesús Gallardo dribbled about 30 yards and from just outside the box he zipped a diagonal shot inside the right post. Monterrey barely had time to celebrate when defender Lionel Vangioni was shown his second yellow, giving the Gallos Blancos a man advantage.
Querétaro was unable to capitalize, however. Despite enjoying 57% possession and firing 17 shots, the Gallos Blancos only managed 1 shot on goal.
As time expired, new acquisition Maxi Meza collected a pass from Gallardo who had gotten to the touch line inside the box. The Argentine trapped, glanced at goal, the blasted a right-footer just inside the near post for the winner. It appeared that Gallos Blancos goalie Gil Alcalá was obstructed because he was shading toward the near post before the shot.
With the loss, the Gallos Blancos fall into a last-place tie with Tijuana while Monterrey moves momentarily into first place pending Sunday’s results.