CHRISTOPHER MCCOLLUM - Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Herculez Gomez and Santos Laguna stay on top, Michael Orozco and San Luis continued their slide towards the bottom, and Jose Torres was involved in a thriller with Pachuca.
Santos Laguna 2 - 1 Pumas
Herculez Gomez was a 76th minute substitute for Santos as they beat their own follies in addition to Pumas to keep their league lead intact.
Cristian Saurez shot Santos up early in the 11th minute, taking a well placed through ball form Carlos Quintero that put him into the left center of the penalty box. Goalkeeper Alejandro Palacios sprinted out to cut off the angle, but Saurez chipped it past him for the goal.
Rodolfo Salinas would extend the lead in the 64th minute as he got onto the end of a Candido Montes cross from the left flank. The ball appeared to be targeted at Carlos Quintero, but the Colombian dummied the ball, leaving it for Salinas who was trailing behind him. Salinas fired a half volley from the penalty spot, leaving no chance for Palacios to save it.
Salinas would get on the score sheet again only 11 minutes later, but this time for Pumas.
Javier Granados played a corner kick from the left side into the box, and Salinas leaped at the near post to clear it. He appeared to take a slight shove in his back from Luis Fuentes, which may have altered Salinas' angle just enough, as the ball deflected off of his head and into the goal, instead of away.
Gomez entered the game at the next restart, but was not able to extend the lead. Gomez is now scoreless through Week 5.
Santos Laguna next plays on the road at Morelia on February 10.
Monterrey 3 - 0 San Luis
Michael Orozco started and played 62 minutes as San Luis continued their struggles, taking a third straight loss.
Jesus De Nigris got on the board first after a frantic opening half hour. His 30th minute goal was the result of Angel Martinez stripping Moises Velasco of the ball near half field, and leading an attack up the right flank.
Martinez passed the ball to the sideline, finding Cesar Delgado, who would quickly cross it into the box, finding De Nigris on the header. De Nigris wasn't able to get much power on it, but it was placed well enough from seven yards out that goalkeeper Oscar Perez was unable to stop it.
Just four minutes later, Delgado would score as he dribbled his way through the Orozco-led defense with ease, before ending up alone at the penalty spot. He calmly placed the ball past Perez to double the lead.
San Luis's horror night would continue in the 55th minute as a corner kick came into the box. A whiffed clearance from Anibal Matellan saw the ball drop to an unmarked Jesus Zavala, who hit it first time into the roof of the net from eight yards out.
Orozco tried in vain to stick his foot out and block it. Seven minutes later, Orozco would be subbed out for the the first time this season.
The loss dropped San Luis back to 11th place with six points from five games, having allowed eight goals, tied for worst in the league. They will next host Tigres on February 11.
Puebla 1 - 1 Tijuana
Edgar Castillo and Joe Corona got the start for Tijuana, while DaMarcus Beasley started for Puebla in Week 5's battle of Americans.
Castillo got things started off right for Tijuana in the sixth minute as he made a strong run from the left side of the midfield into the middle, going to goal. Holding off a defender on his back long enough to draw an additional defender to him, he played the ball to Duvier Riascos on his right, who was sitting at the top of the box. Riascos with his new-found space quickly controlled the ball and after one touch, shot it low past Alexandro Olivares to the near post.
Nine minutes later, Beasley had a chance to tie the game, as he drifted in behind the defense with the ball bouncing around in the box. He found himself unmarked with the ball bouncing towards him about seven yards out, and he headed it on goal, forcing a diving save from Cirilo Saucedo.
Beasley would make up for his missed header in the 25th minute, however, as he dribbled the ball into the box between two defenders, on a classic Beasley run.
After turning the corner and making his way to goal, he was dragged down by Javier Gandolfi, earning a penalty kick. He struggled back to his feet and limped his way into place at the top of the box, with a concerned Castillo by his side.
Luis Garcia converted the penalty, going to his right and beating the outstretched hands of Saucedo.
Only a minute later, Beasley would once again find himself in the action, this time taking a ball at the top of the box and laying it off to Luis Cortes whose low shot was barely tipped wide by Saucedo.
Beasley left the game in the 55th minute with an injury, though he tweeted after the fact that it was minor and he should be back in action soon.
Joe Corona was subbed out of the game in the 69th minute, without having had any significant impact on the proceedings.
The result dropped Tijuana further from the top three, and did little to improve Puebla's position mired in the bottom half of the table.
Tijuana next plays at home against Cruz Azul, while Puebla goes on the road to Pumas, both on February 11.
Pachuca 4 - 3 Toluca
Jose Torres went the distance again for Pachuca in a game full of fireworks that saw five first half goals, two penalty kicks, and an own goal.
Toluca started off with bang, 13 seconds in.
Carlos Esquivel received a long pass from the midfield, finding him with space at the right corner of the penalty box. Esquivel controlled the ball and dribbled to the touch line, then passed the ball across the middle, looking for Ivan Alonso. Instead, the ball found Javier Mustafa, who inadvertently knocked it into his own net, past goalkeeper Rodolfo Cota.
Toluca doubled the lead just nine minutes later when Mustafa, in a continuation of his nightmare start to the game, fouled Alonso from behind in the box. Mustafa received a yellow card, and Alonso drew a penalty kick, then stepped up to take it himself. The Bazooka of Toluca converted the penalty by putting it straight down the middle as Cota dived to his left.
The day would get worse for Pachuca in the 16th minute, as a short corner drew the Pachuca defense out of position.
This allowed Aureliano Torres to find Nestor Calderon, who had slipped behind the shifting Pachuca defenders, and was undetected at the left corner of the box. Torres played the ball in to Calderon, who turned and curled a lovely shot into the far post.
Pachuca began their furious comeback in the 35th minute with a swift counter attack off of a cleared Toluca free kick. Daniel Arguello sprinted upfield with the ball, drawing two defenders which left Mauro Cejas wide open on the left. Arguello slipped the ball to him, and Cejas took it into the box on a break away, then beat Alfredo Talavera to the near post.
Arguello would get a goal to go with his assist five minutes later, taking a lay off from Jaime Corozo about 30 yards from goal, before firing a left footed shot from 20 yards out, beating Talavera high and to the right side of the goal.
Cejas got onto the score sheet again, this time with an assist, in the 64th minute. Cejas would take possession of the ball on the left flank, before spotting Marco Ontiveros making a run in the box. Cejas hit the ball low and hard into the middle, and Ontiveros put a sweet deflecting touch on the ball with his left foot, sending it to the far post and in to tie the game.
Pachuca's epic comeback was finally completed in the second minute of an allotted three minutes of stoppage time, as Toluca pushed for the game winner. A quick counter attack saw Ontivero sprung for a break away from just on the inside of half field.
Ontivero ran in on goal, while Talavera ran out to meet him at the top of the box. Ontivero cut to his right and was brought down by Talavera for a penalty kick. Talavera drew a yellow card, and Cejas stepped forward to take the penalty kick. He had the opportunity to be the hero, and he succeeded, powering it high and to the middle while Talavera dove to his right.
Pachuca's victory was sealed mere seconds later as the referee signaled the end of the game.
The win keeps Pachuca one point out of second place, and four behind Santos Laguna. They will next host Estudiantes Tecos on February 10.
Jonathan Bornstein was on the bench, but Victor Garza did not dress for Tigres as they beat America 1-0.
Marco Vidal did not make the bench as Club Leon dismantled Lobos BUAP 5-2 in second division play.