Second-division teams were undefeated in three games against top-flight clubs in Matchday 2 of the Copa MX.
Ascenso MX teams had a banner night during Week 2 of the “new” Copa MX tournament on Tuesday, winning two of three match-ups against Liga MX sides.
Feisty Zacatepec overcame an early deficit to hand visiting Atlas a setback in the best Copa MX match of the night. Farther north, a disciplined Zacatecas side outplayed Querétaro to move into a first-place tie with Tijuana in Group 5.
Another Ascenso MX team, the Venados of Mérida, battled Juárez to a 1-1 draw in a long-distance match-up in the border town. Elsewhere, host Morelia edged past Puebla in the Group 1 opener for both Liga MX clubs.
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Zacatepec 3, Atlas 2
The Cañeros rode three second half goals to victory over Atlas in a stirring Group 9 match that boosts the Ascenso MX team into first place.
Paraguayan striker Gustavo Ramírez scored twice within four minutes to thrill the 10,000-plus fans in attendance and the Cañeros held on to collect all three points.
Atlas scored first when Edgar Zaldivar raced under a chipped free kick and tapped home at the back post in minute 13. Mauricio Cuero’s soft kick froze keeper Alejandro Arana who had to hold his position as an Atlas player rose to try to head the ball so Zaldivar had an empty net to aim at.
Zorros midfielder Facundo Barceló then had two decent opportunities to extend the lead, but was foiled both times by timely tackles. Zacatepec’s Miguel Basulto (a former Chivas defender and a member of their 2017 Liga MX title-winning squad) barely missed tying the score before halftime as he got his head on two separate free kicks but was unable to target them accurately.
Basulto got his reward just after the restart, knocking home a corner kick with his knee in minute 46 after the ball cleared a scrum of players at the front post. Atlas youngster Aldo López nearly tied to for the Zorros a few minutes later but his effort clanged off the post.
Ramírez took center stage in minute 56 when the Zorros failed to get back after a corner kick was thumped clear. The ball soared over the midfield line and Facundo Taborda chased it down near the right sideline, eluded a tackle then forged ahead down the flank before sending a perfect cross to the Paraguayan who slammed a diving header past Atlas keeper Edgar Hernández. The counterattack took all day to develop but only two Zorros players got back to contest the play.
Minutes later, Zacatepec fullback Elbis Sousa made a great run forward, outracing the entire right side of the Atlas defense to get clear into the box before crisply squaring a pass to Ramírez who bundled it home from in close. The Cañeros found themselves leading 3-1 with less than half an hour remaining.
The home fans would have to sweat it out a bit, however, after Atlas striker Javier Correa came on and zipped a free kick from 26 meters that left Arana with absolutely no chance. It was 3-2 in minute 76. Nervous time. But Zacatepec maintained its poise, coming close to restoring its 2-goal lead, but Ramírez failed to nail down his hat trick despite having time to eye the target from inside the box. His right-footed blast sailed just wide of the left post. He had been served by 20-year-old winger Kevin Magaña (a regular on Mexico’s Under-20 team) who had a nice game.
The Zorros’ last chance at a tie came from the left foot of 17-year-old Alejandro Gómez whose left-footed rocket flew just wide of the net in minute 87.
With this result, Zacatepec tops Group 9 with 3 points from 1 game, while Pachuca has 1 point after last week’s 1-1 tie with Atlas, while the Zorros also have 1 point but have played twice.
Zacatecas 2, Querétaro 0
The Gallos Blancos are the surprise team in the Liga MX, stealing into second place after three weeks, but their Copa hopes have likely been dashed after their second straight 2-0 loss.
Querétaro came out flat against the Ascenso MX side and the Mineros took advantage with a steady performance in this Group 5 match-up.
Just past the 20-minute mark, Zacatecas pressed forward and strung together roughly 25 passes, probing into the box on the left side as the Gallos Blancos chased complacently. The Mineros then switched the attack on the right side and working it to Denilson Villa who found space. The Zacatecas native sent in a pinpoint cross to striker Manuel Pérez who headed crisply past goalie Gerardo Ruiz and the Mineros moved ahead in minute 23.
Querétaro found it tough going after that as Zacatecas’ tactical discipline made it difficult for the Gallos Blancos to create scoring chances. In minute 67, Mineros striker Pérez lifted a corner kick into the box and Ernesto Reyes rose unmarked near the penalty spot and powered home his team’s second goal.
Zacatecas has 3 points from 1 game to match Tijuana, while Querétaro has 0 points from 2 games.
Juárez 1, Venados 1
Eduardo Pérez scored for the host Bravos in minute 31 and Francisco Uscanga hit the equalizer in minute 47. The Venados sit atop Group 3 with 4 points after defeating another Ascenso MX team, Atlante, last week. Juárez has 1 point from 1 game.
Morelia 1, Puebla 0
Luis Angel Mendoza scored the lone goal of this match to give the Monarcas an early leg up in Group 1. The other team in this group is an Ascenso MX club, the Cimarrones of Sonora.
Group 2 game postponed
In Tuxtla Gutiérrez (Chiapas), Monterrey and the Cafetaleros had their Group 2 match postponed with the score 1-1 when an electrical storm at halftime forced officials to call off the match. It will be completed at a later date. The Rayados lead the group after defeating the Leones Negros 2-1 last week in the group opener.