In 2004, the UNAM Pumas turned 50 years old and they celebrated by producing a year for the ages.
No doubt about it … 2004 was a GREAT year to be a Pumas fan.
Fifteen years ago this summer, the Pumas turned 50 years old (founded on Aug. 2, 1954) and they were preparing to defend the Liga MX championship they won by defeating the Chivas in a penalty kick shoot-out in June. Hugo Sánchez would go on to guide his Pumas to back-to-back titles, easing past Monterrey in the Apertura 2004 final to claim UNAM’s fifth Liga MX trophy.
Though those seasons are a decade-and-a-half in the rear-view mirror, many participants from those two finals are very familiar to today’s Liga MX fans. Before finishing up the series by enumerating some of those names and faces (Part III), we’ll take a quick look at the two memorable finals against the Chivas (Part I) and against Monterrey (Part II).
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Clausura 2004: Pumas vs Chivas
UNAM enjoyed arguably its best-ever season during the Clausura 2004, finishing with a 12-5-2 record (41 points), with 42 goals for and 19 goals against. Few people will recall, however, that the Pumas were second in the table to the Jaguares of Chiapas who posted the second-most points in Liga MX since the league switched to short seasons in 1996. Chiapas had a 17-game unbeaten streak that season and earned 42 points (only América in the Apertura 2002 put up more points – 43).
The Chivas claimed the third seed with 34 points (10-4-5 record) and faced sixth-seeded Atlante in the quarterfinals, losing the first leg 2-0 before roaring back to win the return match 3-1, getting the winning goal on a penalty kick by Paco Palencia. Guadalajara then edged past fifth-seeded Toluca 2-1 on aggregate, getting the winner from Ramón Ramírez 8 minutes from time in the second leg.
The Pumas had an easier time, dominating Atlas 5-2 on aggregate in the quarters then facing Cruz Azul who had stunned Chiapas in the quarterfinals. Jaime Lozano converted a penalty kick in minute 75 of the second leg to send the Pumas into the finals on a 3-2 aggregate.
On June 10, 2004, Guadalajara hosted the first leg of the finals. The tension had been ratcheted up after Chivas owner Jorge Vergara taunted the Pumas by publishing a full-page ad in several national newspapers that said, essentially: “I tot I taw a putty tat.”
The intense match ended in a 1-1 draw after ref Miguel Glower awarded Guadalajara a penalty in minute 85 after Lozano fouled Salvador Carmona a full 3 feet outside the penalty box. Ramón Morales converted the penalty to offset José Luis López’s tap-in 10 minutes earlier.
The Pumas were livid, but they were lucky, too, because the Chivas had outplayed Hugol’s team. After the game, ref Glower admitted to being embarrassed by his mistake, but declined to apologize to the Pumas.
The Grand Final took place three days later, on June 13, and it would take 120 minutes and a penalty kick shoot-out to determine the champion.
Both goalkeepers – Oswaldo Sánchez (Chivas) and Sergio Bernal (Pumas) – were magnificent. “San Oswaldo” had 15 saves, while Bernal stopped 9 shots. Despite the heroics by the keepers, there was staunch defense being played. Guadalajara, in particular, fought tooth-and-nail to shut down the league’s most-powerful offense.
At the 66-minute mark, Hugol removed Pumas striker Bruno Marioni (the league’s top scorer with 16 goals during the regular season), who had been hobbled with a leg injury. Marioni was upset and headed toward the locker room until teammate Joaquín del Olmo grabbed him and convinced him to take a seat on the bench.
In the first 15 minutes of overtime, it seemed like only a matter of time before UNAM knocked home the winner. During the second overtime, the Pumas ran out of gas and midfielder Rafael Medina nearly won it for the Chivas in the final seconds, but Bernal parried the shot.
As the teams prepared for the shoot-out, Guadalajara was confident that “San Oswaldo” would make the difference. The Pumas had other ideas and one-by-one Jaime Lozano, Joaquín del Olmo, Joaquín Beltrán, “Kikín” Fonseca and Ailton da Silva stepped up to the spot and smacked the ball into the net.
The first four Chivas did the same – “Bofo” Bautista, Manuel Sol, “Paco” Palencia and Omar Bravo. Into the box strode Medina, the consensus “best penalty taker” on the Chivas roster, to take the 10th and final penalty kick. Medina sailed his spot kick over the crossbar and Estadio Olímpico Universitario erupted in exhilaration.
Thirteen years of waiting was over … the Pumas were champions once again.