By DANIEL PRICE
Pumas UNAM hit five as relegation-threatened Atlante capitulated in the capital.
The Cancun-based side had picked up ten points from their previous four games and had moved into Liguilla contention – yet they were thoroughly outclassed by a rampant Pumas and looked every bit a team fighting for their top flight survival.
Martin Bravo yet again proved to be Pumas’ most valuable asset. The forward grabbed another brace before half-time and now tops the leading scorers chart with nine goals in eleven games. A third from Ismael Sosa saw the home side lead 3-0 at the break, with Atlante already looking well-beaten.
Worryingly for Pumas the Argentinian failed to emerge for the second half due to injury. Fans will hope the injury is not too serious and he can continue to help the side push towards a place in the Liguilla. Pumas continued to dominate as Diego Lagos added a fourth on sixty minutes before Dario Veron completed Atlante’s humiliation with a fifth goal two minutes from the end.
Atlas’ 1-0 win over Veracruz now means it is likely to be either Los Azulgranas or Los Tiburones that drop down to the Ascenso come May. The win moves Pumas into third, though they remain just four points ahead of twelfth-placed Club Tijuana in the battle for the Liguilla.
Here’s a closer look at the best of Liga MX from Clausura Round 11:
CLUB AMERICA FIGHT FOR A POINT
Club America’s season has been littered with inconsistency and false dawns. After last week’s embarrassing home defeat to Santos Laguna the pressure was on both the team and the manager to provide a response.
Los Aguilas certainly didn’t get the start they would have wished for as Viatri opened the scoring inside twenty minutes with a twenty yard bullet. America toiled in attack, and ultimately had to rely on centre back Pablo Aguilar to head them level just before half time. Renowned as being a goal-scoring defender, it was Aguilar’s first goal since joining the club in January.
In the sixtieth minute Chiapas led for a second time through Felix Araujo, and for a second time America had to rely on a defender to bail them out. This time is was Juan Carlos Valenzuela who rose highest to meet Sambueza’s corner, heading past Mendoza and tying the game at 2-2.
The draw leaves America in sixth place and they are by no means assured of a play-off spot. Chiapas are thirteenth and could yet play themselves into top eight contention.
CRUZ AZUL RETURN TO FORM
After losing their first game of the season to Tigres UANL last weekend and then losing again to Kansas City in the Champions League on Wednesday, Los Cementeros were desperate to get back to winning ways at home to Club Tijuana.
The league leaders were much the better side, and deserved their 2-1 victory. Marco Fabian was the star of the show, dominating the midfield, orchestrating attacks, breaking up opposition plays and scoring two wonder-goals. The quality of Fabian’s performance has left several people wondering whether he could yet be a surprise inclusion in Miguel Herrera’s World Cup squad.
The home side actually trailed 1-0 at half-time thanks to Paul Arriola, but Marco Fabian’s goals in the 46th and 70th minute ensured the hosts left with the three points. The first was a long distance rocket that went in off the post, while second was another venomous twenty-yard effort following a lengthy dribble.
Both sides now head into Champions League second legs on home soil and will try to overturn first leg deficits against MLS opposition. On the evidence of this game Cruz Azul can feel very confident whereas Xolos will need to improve considerably.
BEST OF THE REST
Tigres beat Puebla 1-0 to record their fifth consecutive clean-sheet and move to within a point of the top eight, Santos came from a goal behind to beat ten-man Pachuca 3-1, second-placed Toluca kept the pressure on the leaders by comfortably dispatching Queretaro 2-0, and Atlas won their crucial relegation battle against Veracruz 1-0.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Martin Bravo – Pumas: Bravo gets the award for the third time this season. The country’s leading scorer is typifying everything good about Pumas remarkable season, and they go on to finish in the top eight it will be in no small part down to his contribution.
Here’s a look at the full results from Clausura Round 11 in Liga MX:
Queretaro 0, Toluca 2
Veracruz 0, Atlas 1
Cruz Azul 2, Club Tijuana 1
Monterrey 0, Morelia 1
Santos Laguna 3, Pachuca 1
Chiapas 2, Club America 2
Pumas UNAM 5, Atlante 0
Puebla 0, Tigres UANL 1
Chivas de Guadalajara 1, Club Leon 0