The visiting Esmeraldas routed the league-leading Gallos Blancos and, in so doing, signaled that last season was no fluke.
Leon served up a big slice of humble pie to Querétaro as J.J. Macías scored twice, while Angel Mena and Luis Montes each had a goal and an assist. The 4-0 loss for the host Gallos Blancos was their first of the season and it could have been worse but for goalie Gil Alcalá who made three spectacular saves.
Last season, the Esmeraldas visited Estadio Corregidora in Week 4 and spanked the Gallos Blancos by the same 4-0 scoreline. That win was the first in the club’s historic 12-game win streak that led to a first-place finish for Leon. This result suggests they are capable of repeating as regular-season champs.
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Querétaro had the first chance of the game thanks to a bad call by ref Adonai Escobedo. In minute 22, the official whistled a penalty and showed Leon defender Andrés Mosquera a red card. The Video Assistant Referee buzzed down and Escobedo looked at the replays with one angle clearly showing no foul had been committed. The ref reversed his call in part, rescinding the red card but authorizing the penalty kick.
Gallos Blancos skipper Luis Romo stepped up only to flub the kick which was saved by goalie Rodolfo Cota. Justice was served.
Leon began to circulate the ball, accumulating long possession (59% on the night), while Querétaro appeared to be trying to play physical. The Gallos Blancos committed 15 fouls on the night, but the Esmeraldas declined to retaliate or lose their composure. They simply climbed back to their feet, dusted themselves off and went back on attack.
Their patience and precision paid off soon enough.
In minute 34, Leon started a move toward the Gallos Blancos box. Jean Meneses found Angel Mena near the top of the box with a crisp low pass, and Mena deftly blocked it into the path of the onrushing Macias who slotted home smoothly.
It could have been 3-0 at the half, but Alcalá made a flying save on a Mena shot ticketed for the top right corner, then denied Montes on a shot through a crowd.
In minute 66, Montes split the Gallos Blancos back line with a seeing-eye pass from midfield that sprang Mena behind the defense. The Ecuadorian ran onto the pass and chipped the onrushing Alcalá to make it 2-0. Seven minutes later, sub Joel Campbell drew a crowd near the top of the box to left of goal. The Costa Rican found Fernando Navarro streaking into the box down the right side and the Gold Cup-winning fullback pushed a pass back across the goal mouth for Macías to knock into the empty net. Tic-tac-toe … 3-0.
Montes was the beneficiary of another gorgeous play when left back Yairo Moreno floated a long pass down the left flank where Campbell was able to snag control and split the two defenders who had rushed over to trap him along the sideline. Campbell raced into the box trailed by blue shirts, then cut a pass back to Montes who made no mistake to make it 4-0.
Leon now has 10 points from 5 games (the Esmeraldas had a bye on Matchday 3) to move into the top 5 of the table. Querétaro is in third place with 13 points, pending the rest of the weekend’s results.