We’re at the halfway point of the Copa MX group stage and there are plenty of surprises.
Second-division clubs went 0 for 4 Wednesday in Copa MX contests against first-division rivals after a Tuesday Matchday that saw them go 2 for 2.
Holders Cruz Azul came from behind on the road to defeat a plucky Oaxaca side 2-1, while reigning Ascenso MX champs Atlético de San Luis held their own against Liga MX winners América, before falling 1-0 on a late penalty at Estadio Azteca.
The Cementeros were desperate for victory after a slow start to the season that saw them at risk of failing to get out of the group stage. With the win – thanks to a late header from Edgar Méndez – Cruz Azul sits atop Group 5 on goals scored, tied at 3 points with León and Oaxaca.
Oaxaca defeated first-division León in their Copa opener and took an early lead over the title-holders on a howler of a play by Cruz Azul goalie Guillermo Allison in minute 26. Right back José Madueña passed to Allison with plenty of time to clear, but the keeper looked around for an outlet, then decided to sweep a left-footer back to Madueña. However, Oaxaca’s Brazilian striker Esquerdinha was closing in and the pass was made right to him. He controlled the ball and simply tapped it into the net as Allison lay prone with his face buried in the grass.
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Cruz Azul failed to generate any offense in the first half and coach Pedro Caixinha subbed in a few first-teamers in hopes of salvaging the team’s Copa season. Misael Domínguez tied the match less than a minute into the second half, collecting a pass from sub Jonathan Rodríguez and slotting home. Méndez nodded home the winner in minute 81 when sub Roberto Alvarado got to the touch line on the left flank and lofted a perfect cross to the back post where Méndez had beaten his marker.
América and San Luis provided an entertaining match as the Aguilas fielded only 3 starters and 5 top-line subs as well as 3 academy players. América won the match with a 73rd-minute penalty conversion by Emanuel Aguilera after Edson Álvarez was taken down inside the box on a hasty tackle after he had gotten behind the defense to the right of goal. The Aguilas pushed their unbeaten streak to 23 games with the 1-0 win and moved to the top of Group 4, ahead of Necaxa (3 points) and San Luis (0 points).
In last season’s Copa MX, first-division teams won each of the 9 groups and only 4 second-division squads advanced out of the group stage. Halfway through the group stage, it appears that Ascenso MX teams are poised to challenge for spots in the knockout rounds.
In Group 3, Liga MX club Querétaro routed Zacatepec 4-0 but they lost 3-1 to Dorados of Sinaloa in their first Cup match.
Group 2 is upside down as FC Juárez leads with 6 points from 2 games, trailed by Tampico Madero with 3 and first division Puebla is in the cellar without points.
In Group 7, the Mineros of Zacatecas lead with 6 points after defeating both if its first-division rivals, Lobos BUAP and Veracruz. And in Group 9, Pumas and Atlas (3 points from 2 games) are tied with second division Leones Negros of Guadalajara.
Other second division teams still dreaming of reaching the Round of 16 are Cafetaleros of Tapachula in Group H (in second place behind the Chivas) and the Correcaminos in Group 6 (in second place behind Morelia).