Rayados dominate, Aguilas stumble, Rayos fight back

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - FEBRUARY 09: Jose Macías (L) of Leon celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the 6th round match between America and Leon as part of the Torneo Clausura 2019 Liga MX at Azteca Stadium on February 09, 2019 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images)
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - FEBRUARY 09: Jose Macías (L) of Leon celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the 6th round match between America and Leon as part of the Torneo Clausura 2019 Liga MX at Azteca Stadium on February 09, 2019 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images) /

Monterrey moved back into first place with a dominating performance while defending champion América was spanked 3-0 by León.

Matchday 6 continued on Saturday night with several thrilling matches, the most entertaining of which was the 3-3 tie in Aguascalientes between host Necaxa and the visiting Chivas. The Rayados returned to the top of the table with an emphatic win, while the champs were shocked by a pesky León team in Estadio Azteca

Elsewhere, the Pumas tasted victory for the first time in the Clausura 2019 and Pachuca earned three points with a home win over the Monarcas.

Rayados 4, Lobos BUAP 0

Monterrey trounced Lobos BUAP as four different players scored helping the Rayados leapfrog their crosstown rivals – the Tigres – and return to the top of the table.

Rodolfo Pizarro opened the scoring in minute 20, easily tapping home a cross that had skimmed off the head of teammate John Medina. Maxi Meza doubled the lead five minutes later with a deflected Olympic goal. Meza sent a curling corner kick low toward the near post and it appeared to deflect off one of two Lobos defenders trying to cut off the shot. The ball bounced down off the turf and over the head of Lobos keeper Antonio González.

The Rayados controlled the match thereafter and closed out the scoring with a pair of late penalty kicks, the first by Nico Sánchez (minute 79) and the second by league-leading scorer Rogelio Funes Mori (84’).

Despite the big scoreline, Lobos goalie Toño González kept the game close until the penalty kicks, making 7 saves. Monterrey took aim at goal 25 times and 11 of those shots were on net, so González had a busy night.

América 0, León 3

The champs were punished by a swarming bunch of green jerseys, whose pressure and tactical discipline forced a ton of errant passes and wasted possession. The León defense was refused to give in, blocking shots, cutting off passing lanes and making crisp clearances when necessary. And when the defense leaked, goalie Rodolfo Cota was there to clean up. The veteran keeper made 5 saves to earn a clean sheet. The shutout was the first time América failed to score in a regular season match since Oct. 27 against Cruz Azul.

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Teen striker José Juan Macías opened the scoring for León in minute 12, smashing a leaping, left-footed volley into the roof of the net off a sharp angle. Angel Mena scored the next two, first converting a lovely pass from Jean Meneses by one-timing it into the short side and then collecting a perfect feed from Joel Campbell, deking goalie Agustín Marchesín and then firing into an empty net.

León also defeated América last season, 2-0, and the last time the Aguilas were shut out at home in a regular season game was in October 2017 when Necaxa defeated them 1-0.

Necaxa 3, Chivas 3

Fullback Carlos Guzmán saved the Rayos from an embarrassing home loss with a fabulous headed goal in minute 90+4 after the Chivas had come back from 2-1 down to take the lead with goals in minutes 82 and 89.

Necaxa captain Ventura Alvarado was on his way to being the goat before Guzmán’s heroics. The defender had headed into his own net in minute 28 then lost his footing and handled a cross inside the box, leading to Alan Pulido’s game-tying penalty kick in minute 82.

Just 7 minutes earlier, former Chivas player Angel Sepúlveda wore the horns when he scuffed a penalty kick right into the hands of Guadalajara goalie Raúl Gudiño. The Rayos could have taken a 3-1 lead with only 15 minutes remaining, but Sepúlveda’s shocking penalty take gave new life to the Chivas.

Rayados win, Chivas tie Rayos
Necaxa goalie Hugo González denies Chivas striker Alexis Vega during their match at Estadio Victoria  in Aguascalientes. The game was the most entertaining of a busy night in Liga MX. (Photo by Jaime Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

The visitors seemed to have won the match when late sub Ronald Cisneros fired home a loose ball after the Chivas had surprised Necaxa with a quick free kick that sent Pulido down to the touch line. He passed to Luis Madrigal whose shot was blocked but right into the path of Cisneros.

Necaxa seemed headed for its first loss of the season as Brian Fernández – who scored the first two Rayos goals – lifted a soft free kick into the box to the right of Gudiño where Guzmán headed the ball on a high arc toward the opposite post and into the net.

Gallos Blancos 0, Pumas 2

The Pumas got their first win of the season despite an unimpressive performance against last-place Querétaro. Pablo Barrerra got the first with an individual effort, blasting home from outside the box. His slow start to the season mirrored that of the Pumas who really benefited from their captain’s inspirational performance.

For the second game in a row, Juan Iturbe came off the bench in the second half and scored for UNAM. This time, he collected a pass from fellow sub Martín Rodríguez and fired home from distance.

Again, the Gallos Blancos demonstrated how much they miss goalie Tiago Volpi who returned home to play in his native Brazil. Last season, Volpi did not allow a single goal on a shot taken outside of the box. This season, teams have let fly from distance and are finding success.

New Pumas coach Bruno Marioni earned his first win of the season in his second match following last week’s tie against Monterrey.

Pachuca 2, Morelia 0

Franco Jara and Víctor Dávila scored second-half goals for the Tuzos who had trouble solving the Morelia defense.

The win moves Pachuca into 7th place pending the outcome of Sunday’s games. The Monarcas are in 15th place with a 1-1-4 record and coach Roberto Hernández might have to start worrying about job security.