Saturday’s four fixtures in Liga MX offered plenty of goals and some very interesting results starting with Cruz Azul continuing their fine start to the season with a four-goal demolition of Veracruz in the Estadio Azul. Pumas ended their winless run and earned a first victory of the Torneo by coming from behind to edge out another side in search of a win, Tigres and later the Torneo Apertura finalists were both involved in tough matches. Champions Leon were humbled at home against Pachuca looking a shade of the side that romped to the title just a month ago while the runners-up, Club America were made to work very hard in Guadalajara against Atlas. A game that Antonio Mohamed’s side were expected to win was looking uncertain until Luis Gabriel Rey’s brace turned the game around.
Cruz Azul 4 – 0 Veracruz
It is early days but Cruz Azul will be thrilled with the way they have started the Torneo Clausura, unbeaten and having conceded only one goal, La Maquina sit on top of the pile. Saturday’s visit of Veracruz to the Estadio Azul was their most emphatic victory to date.
A rampant opening 45 minutes saw the game ended as a contest but it wasn’t until the half hour mark before Cruz Azul let their dominance tell. Ecuadorian, Joao Rojas cut in from the right and although his initial effort was blocked the rebound fell kindly to the winger and he thumped the ball past Edgar Hernandez.
Eight minutes later, the lead was doubled. A corner from the left was headed powerfully into the net by Colombian veteran, Luis Perea and before Los Tiburones Rojos could regroup and make it to the break it was three. Another set piece was flicked into the path of Argentine Striker, Mariano Pavone and he diverted the ball past the helpless Hernandez.
The pick of the bunch came 10 minutes from time when Marco Fabián played a one-two before rifling the ball from the angle into the bottom corner.
A steady defence and now a growing attacking force makes Cruz Azul a genuine threat and creates a growing expectation from the fans.
Tigres 1 – 2 Pumas
A meeting between two of the most out of form sides both in search of a first victory was decided late but Tigres will look back ruefully on a match that swung against them just prior to half time.
Argentine midfielder, Guido Pizarro stooped to head Tigres in front after just 11 minutes but a rash elbow from Jose Rivas as he jostled at a corner reduced the home side to 10 and firmly handed the impetus to Pumas.
Martin Bravo equalised from the penalty spot after Efraín Velarde was clipped by Jesús Dueñas Manzo and with five minutes remaining Bravo broke the offside trap and slotted in the winner.
Pumas can breathe a sigh a of relief after recording their first win but Tigres slump to the foot of the table and in need of 3 points fast.
Leon 1 – 3 Pachuca
Following defeat in the Azteca last weekend to America, a response from Leon was expected. However, the Torneo Apertura champions produced their worst performance in some time and it was ruthlessly punished by Pachuca.
Enner Valencia rose high between Rafael Marquez and Edwin Hernández to head Pachuca in front after 23 minutes and despite a reaction from the champions they were unable to force an equaliser.
As Leon pushed, Pachuca’s threat on the counter increased and just before the hour mark Jürgen Damm broke down the right and his cut back was converted Alex Colon from close range.
The third came from a similar source when Damm once again crossed from the right. This time the ball fell to Enner Valencia and the Ecuadorian made no mistake in scoring his second of the game.
With minutes remaining, Mauro Boselli pulled one back from the penalty spot but it was too little too late for the Champions. Perhaps still suffering from a hangover after the Torneo Apertura, Leon have not performed at the level they are capable of so far and this will need to change soon.
Atlas 1 – 2 Club America
Title contenders, America fresh from victory over Leon against relegation candidates, Atlas was, on-paper, a certain away win. In the end, Antonio Mohamed’s side got the expected victory but they were made to sweat for the 3 points in Guadalajara.
In the build up to the match it was revealed that America number 9, Raul Jimenez would not travel with the squad as the youngster was in need of a rest. In his absence America looked a little short up front but thanks to Colombian, Luis Gabriel Rey, Las Aguilas were able to grind out a win regardless.
Rodrigo Millar nodded Atlas in front just before half time but as expected America cranked up the pressure after the break. Similar to Millar’s goal, Luis Gabriel Rey stole a yard in front of his marker to meet a cross from the left. His strong header came off the underside of the bar leaving Federico Vilar no chance.
With 10 minutes remaining and the game heading for a draw it was Rey’s predatory instincts in the box that made the difference. This time the ball arrived from the right and the striker rifled in a low left footed half volley to ensure Las Aguilas went back to Mexico City with all 3 points.