Three more Copa MX matches filled the Wednesday night fútbol-watching schedule and viewers were treated to some compelling drama.
In Mexico City, the Pumas were in danger of losing their Copa MX home opener when a 17-year-old came to the rescue.
In Toluca, the Diablos Rojos rode an early own-goal to victory though not without some nervous moments. And coach Ricardo La Volpe can’t be happy with the profligacy of this strikers in front of net.
In Monterrey, the Rayados finally got their first win of the season after losing both of their Liga MX matches thus far. Even so, the win over an Ascenso MX team was far from convincing.
Pumas 1, Atlético San Luis 1
Pumas debutante Amaury García scored only minutes after stepping onto a Liga MX pitch for the first time to earn UNAM a hard-fought tie in a Group 8 contest.
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The 17-year-old academy product fired home from 8 meters in minute 79 to complete a nifty play by left back Alan Mendoza. Juan Iturbe dropped a short pass back to Mendoza just outside the box who filtered a beautiful pass into Iturbe’s path and the Paraguayan cut the ball back sharply as García raced into the box.
Ricardo Centurion scored for Atlético San Luis in minute 21 and the visitors put up a defensive wall thereafter.
The Tuneros converted their first good scoring chance when captain Fernando Madrigal lifted a perfect corner kick into the middle of the box and Centurion ran onto it unmolested, heading into the back of the net. Three Pumas defenders leaned toward the front post as the cross was taken and when the ball sailed over them – and goalie Miguel Fraga was unable to cut off the pass – the Argentine playmaker eluded his marker, Alan Mendoza, and nodded home for the visitors. Mendoza appeared to freeze, perhaps thinking Fraga was going to come off his line, but the cross had too much zip on it.
Ten minutes later, Centurion had another chance at goal when he beat the offside trap on the back side but his header was off target. To make the missed opportunity more painful, Centurion had two teammates breaking wide open in front, but he went for goal himself.
UNAM spent the entire first half firing crosses into the box from the flanks but San Luis kept the goalmouth clear for keeper Axel Werner. Pumas coach Michel González inserted Pablo Barrera and Iturbe early in the second half and suddenly UNAM was getting to the touch line before centering.
In minute 70, Kevin Escamilla got to the touch line at right and fired a low cross that Felipe Mora got his head on, but Werner dived to his right to stop the shot. The lanky Argentine keeper was not so lucky 9 minutes later.
The Pumas – aiming for their first Copa MX trophy since 1975 – lead the group with 3 points, San Luis has 0 and Potros UAEM begins Cup play next week.
Toluca 1, Oaxaca 0
Oaxaca defender Juan Aguayo inadvertently swatted a low cross into his own net, allowing Toluca to pay with greater ease. The Diablos Rojos did not dominate the match, but they created the majority of the scoring chances on the night.
Toluca forwards Emmanuel Gigliotti, Pedro Canelo and midfielder Federico Mancuello took turns misfiring on open looks. None were clear-cut chances, but the Diablos should have gotten a lot more shots on net.
Freddy Martín forced a diving, fingertips save from Toluca keeper Luis García in the final 15 minutes. Then deep into added time, Aguayo had a chance to make up for his error only to mishit a difficult volley as a pass flashed by.
Toluca leads Group 4 with 3 points while the second-division Alebrijes bring up the rear after the loss. Veracruz is the third team in this group.
Monterrey 2, Leones Negros 1
The Rayados will be pleased with this win even though it was a relatively uninspired victory over a second division team. Monterrey’s fans are getting antsy, however, as the team is off to a slow start.
Defender Nico Sánchez and striker Rogelio Funes Mori headed home from close range midway through the second half to account for Monterrey’s scoring. The visitors narrowed the deficit in minute 72 when Daniel Amador was sent free behind the Rayados defense and he slotted home from 15 meters.
The Rayados sit atop Group 2 with 3 points, the Leones Negros have 0 points and the Cafeteleros de Chiapas are the third team in the group.