The Guerreros have been in 1st place most of the season and they are back on top after a hard-fought win over the Gallos Blancos.
Santos climbed back to the top of the table after winning a late-season showdown against second-place Querétaro. The loss sent the Gallos Blancos into fourth place and they could sink further depending on what León and the Tigres do.
Defender Matheus Doria blasted home a shot from 35 meters in minute 17 as Santos and the visiting Gallos traded blows throughout the first half. Querétaro keeper Gil Alcalá made three splendid saves as the Guerreros consistently created scoring chances on the break and with build-up plays. Doria collected a pass just in front of the midfield circle and drifted forward with the ball at his feet. When no Querétaro defender moved up to challenge him he dribbled closer until he let fly with a rocket that zipped just inside the left post and just beyond Alcalá’s reach.
The Gallos also found space in front of Jonathan Orozco but rarely got a good look at net (they only had 3 shots on goal all game).
The pace slowed down in the second half and ref Jorge Isaac Rojas allowed Santos to get away with fouls to keep the Gallos from sustaining any offensive rhythm. The Guerreros committed 22 fouls and ref Rojas did not take the yellow card out of his pocket once.
With the win, Santos now has 30 points from 15 games, 2 more than idle Necaxa and 3 more than Querétaro. The Gallos Blancos were also passed by América, a 1-0 victor at San Luis.
The Aguilas equaled Necaxa’s 28 points but are behind on goal differential (+12 for the Rayos, +6 for América). In addition, América must still serve their bye which comes on the final weekend of the season.
More from Viva Liga MX
- Guillermo Ochoa is out 4-6 weeks
- The Clásico Regiomontano is Heating Up
- Pumas: In Search of Regaining a Top Spot
- Why the United States Is Set to Overtake Mexico on the World Stage
- Erick Gutierrez is out once again
Roger Martínez scored the winner early in the second half, but the Aguilas could do no further damage to the troubled Tuneros who are working with their third coach of the season. Gustavo Matosas was fired on Sunday after a leaked phone call appeared to show he was getting kickbacks through player transfers.
The Aguilas dominated the game, firing off 22 shots, 7 on goal, while San Luis managed just 7 shots, none of which were on target. The game was played in an empty stadium, the first of a 2-game ban applied to the Tuneros after fan violence in the stands at Estadio Alfonso Lastras on Oct. 20 forced the abandonment of the San Luis-Querétaro match.
Pumas 5, Atlas 1
UNAM found its offense and coach Miguel González can only hope it isn’t too little too late. The Pumas were averaging just 1 goal a game coming into their Matchday 15 clash against 7th-place Atlas and were in desperate need of a win since they had fallen into 11th place after a three-game winless streak.
The home team took an early lead when Carlos González deflected home a loss cross from Víctor Malcorra in minute 11. Sixteen minutes after that, Jesús Isijara finished off an Atlas fast break with the equalizer. For three-quarters of an hour after that, it appeared as though the Pumas would have to rely on their defense to save the game.
But literally seconds after coming on as a substitute in minute 70, Felipe Mora got his foot onto a Pablo Barrera cross and it was 2-0 UNAM. And the floodgates opened.
Nine minutes later, defender Nicolás Freire poked home a rebound off a Barrera shot and another nine minutes later Andrés Iniestra got on the scoresheet thanks to Malcorra’s second assist of the night. Atlas goalie Camilo Vargas was credited with an own goal to close out the books.
The result lifted UNAM into 7th place with 21 points, while Atlas sank to 9th pending the outcome of the Morelia-FC Juárez match. Morelia (20 points) could climb past both UNAM and Atlas with a win and Tijuana could leap-frog over the Pumas with a win at Guadalajara.
Matchday 16 schedule and results
Santos 1, Querétaro 0
San Luis 0, América 1
Veracruz 1, Puebla 0
UNAM 5, Atlas 1
Monterrey at Pachuca
Tijuana at Guadalajara
Toluca at Tigres
FC Juárez at Morelia
León at Cruz Azul