By DANIEL PRICE
Cruz Azul suffered their first defeat of the season as 10-man Tigres UANL took a 3-0 victory on Saturday evening in Monterrey.
The visitors found themselves behind within the first 10 minutes. Cruz Azul defender Manuel Madrid hauled down Alan Pulido in the penalty area, and the Brazilian Juninho made no mistake from the resultant spot kick.
Marco Fabian came close for Cruz Azul through a long range effort, but Tigres doubled their lead after 27 minutes through Pulido. Carlos Salcido put a dangerous cross into the box, and the young forward once again got the better of Madrid to head home.
Falling two goals behind failed to bring a response from Los Cementeros, and even after Salcido’s dismissal for two yellow cards after an hour they failed to look threatening.
American midfielder Jose Francisco Torres sealed the win with 10 minutes to play. Pulido’s trickery opened up some space to allow him to find Damian, and the Tigres winger fed the ball to Torres for a chance he couldn’t miss.
The win moves Tigres into playoff contention, while Cruz Azul remain in first place.
Here’s a closer look at the best of Liga MX from Clausura Round 10:
LEON BEATEN WITH DRAMATIC LATE WINNER
Club Leon had been enjoying a mini-resurgence. An upturn in league form had seen them win three consecutive games and a string of good performances in the Copa Libertadores had given fans belief that the team could go a long way in the competition.
However, relegation threatened Veracruz ended their winless streak as they humbled their more illustrious opponents with a 1-0 win deep into stoppage time.
After a poor first half, the game came alive during the second period. In the 63rd minute Leon should have taken the lead after the referee awarded a penalty for Oscar Mascorro’s foul, but Matias Britos’ saw a poor kick easily saved by Edgar Hernandez.
Veracruz’s Leiton Jimenez was dismissed with 20 minutes still to play and their manager responded by putting an extra man in midfield and playing for a draw. Just as it seemed the game would finish 0-0 Luiz Sanchez made himself a hero, smashing home the winner from an impossibly tight angle in the 91st minute.
PACHUCA IMPROVING, MONTERREY SINKING
Monterrey slipped to 17th in the table as Pachuca cruised to a 2-0 win on Saturday evening.
Ecuadorian international Enner Valencia scored both the goals for the home side, with one coming either side of halftime. The first goal saw him pick the ball up 30 yards from goal and surge past three Monterrey players before beating Orozco at his near post. The second came in less inspiring circumstances, as a mix-up between the Monterrey goalkeeper and his defender allowed Valencia the space to prod home.
The clean sheet means Pachuca now have the joint-best defense in the league, while Monterrey have now only scored seven goals in 10 outings.
BEST OF THE REST
Atlante posted a remarkable 4-2 victory over Queretaro, Club America lost their third home game of the season to Santos Laguna, and Morelia responded to last week’s home defeat by beating Pumas UNAM 3-1.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Michael Arroyo – Atlante: Arroyo scored a crucial hat-trick on Sunday evening to help Atlante avoid relegation. The win sees the Cancun-based club move to sixth in the table, and they could yet earn a place in the Liguilla.
Here’s a look at the full results from Clausura Round 10 in Liga MX:
Morelia 3, Pumas UNAM 1
Club Leon 0, Veracruz 1
Toluca 3, Puebla 0
Club Tijuana 2, Chivas de Guadalajara 0
Club America 2, Santos Laguna 4
Tigres UANL 3, Cruz Azul 0
Pachuca 2, Monterrey 0
Atlas 2, Chiapas 2
Atlante 4, Queretaro 2