lunes, 27 de septiembre de 2010

Game 9: Pumas 2 - 2 Atlante

Pumas let slip a two-goal lead as the Centenary Party is spoiled in CU.

The centenary celebrations for the UNAM university were dampened somewhat as Pumas threw away a two-goal advantage when controlling the game against Atlante on Sunday. Inexplicably man-of-the-match Martín Bravo (picture) was withdrawn after an hour and two scrappy goals allowed the 'Potros' to draw level.

All seemed set fair as everything was put in place for an afternoon of fun in the Olympic Stadium. Students of the University had half-price tickets, the University Rector, José Narro Robles, was present , and a commemorative shirt was on display. The opposition had also had a poor start to the season, and their only result of note was a narrow win against fellow-strugglers Morelia last week. There was even a spirit of giving in CU as stands outside the ground collected foodstuffs for the victims of the hurricane in Veracruz.

Pumas were forced to make a change on the left as Chiapas was suspended after last week's red card, but more excitingly Bravo was given a chance up the middle with Dante López as Palencia began on the bench. Tellingly, despite comments during the week that he felt like a true Puma, Cacho did not feature at all. Atlante looked to strengthen their left-hand side, bringing in Cardaccio.

Despite the difficulties one or two supporters had getting in to the ground early, on the field Pumas were straight into their stride, with an attacking formation with Cortés and Rojas with a licence to get forward. It left the home team a little exposed in midfield, but they nevertheless began almost immediately to cause problems for the Atlante defence.

In fact the first real chance fell to Oscar Rojas after 5 minutes as he got away down the left and fired in a shot which Muñoz in the Atlante goal was happy to push away. With Pumas trying to push forward there were bound to be spaces and the visitors also crafted an opening, Bernal comfortably stopping an Amione effort. Bravo was playing the best he ever has for Pumas with sharp movement and good ball control. Dante was not always on the same wavelength, but as he tends to do he worked hard and he too created space. The two centre-backs Castillo and Torres were having a tricky time and Pumas finally got the goal their enterprise deserved.

On 22 minutes Leandro spread the ball right to Espinosa who cut inside Cardaccio and curled in a nice cross which Bravo expertly finished with a neat header. There was a slight suspicion the Argentinian may have been half a yard offside, but that did not dampen his celebrations as he knelt and calmly crossed himself.

Atlante bravely fought back and despite their nervousness at the back created a couple of half chances as Navarro shot over and Amione forced Bernal into another save. Bermúdez was starting to create some space for himself in the middle, and the "hobbit" tried a long range effort which flew wide. Nonetheless they almost conceded the second on the break as Bravo and Dante combined, Dante making his way to the bye-line before his ball back just evaded Bravo for the finish.

As the second half began Pumas redoubled their efforts to give the Centenary Celebrations a polish and spaces again began to open up. Only 8 minutes after the restart and Bravo had grabbed his second. Good persistence down the right from Dante, rewarded him with a shot which Muñoz saved with his face. Bravo was alert to pick up the rebound and he rounded Torres and shot low to the keeper's right to put Pumas 2-0 ahead.

Bravo, Dante and Rojas began to enjoy themselves and for a few brief minutes it seemed as thought there was the possibility of a rout. Even Cortés began to appear down the right hand side. It was then that Memo Vázquez made the decision that was to change the game. Quite why the Pumas coach thought that Bravo, who had been comfortably the best man on the pitch, needed to be replaced by the lumbering Palencia remains a mystery as Vázquez refused to comment after the game. What happened was that Palencia began to play much deeper than where Bravo had been, and there was immediately far less threat. The lack of ideas up front began to make itself felt as an uncertainty at the back. And now Leandro and Verón were pushing forward to bolster the confused attack.

Slowly Atlante began inching forward, at first with little conviction, but increasingly with confidence. After Bernal had conceded a corner after a poor clearance header by Palacios, the service by Bermúdez  led to Atlante's first. Another poor clearance by Palacios gave Amione a shooting chance and after that was blocked a series of rebounds saw Fano with the chance to poke the ball past Bernal.

Almost immediately the away team was level.  Amione pushed the ball into the area, but there was no immediate danger as he was headed towards the bye-line. Nevertheless Bernal made a mad rush out and almost threw himself at the player for a cast-iron penalty. There would certainly have been people in the stadium thinking that maybe it is time to give Alejandro Palacios another chance, as this was desperately unworthy of an experienced goalkeeper.. Fanu smashed an excellent penalty into the top corner and that was 2-2.

After that neither side looked like taking all three points, and Atlante looked happy enough with the draw. In the closing stages a number of their players went down injured or with cramp, Amione having to go off after he half-collapsed with no-one near him, and there was some concern for a time that there might be a serious problem. Pumas had few ideas in attack, and it was a mystery that Vázquez believed debutant Quiñones and young Carlos Orrantia were the answer at that stage.

All in all a disappointment for Pumas and a point gained (and the UNAM trophy) for Atlante, who move to 8 points, while Pumas just stay in the top half of the table with 12.

Pumas: Sergio Bernal; Efraín Velarde, Darío Verón, Marco Palacios, Fernando Espinosa; Israel Castro, Leandro Augusto, Óscar Rojas (Kevin Quiñónez, 80); Javier Cortés (Carlos Orrantia, 81), Martín Bravo (Francisco Palencia, 60), Dante López. Manager: Guillermo Vázquez.

Atlante: Moisés Muñoz; Andrés Carevic, Gerardo Castillo, Nicolás Torres (Alex Diego, 59), Fernando Navarro; Guerrero, Jerónimo Amione (Éder Mármol, 80), Adolfo Cardaccio (Arturo Muñoz, 66); Édgar Solís, Christian Bermúdez, Johan Fano. Manager: Eduardo Bacas.

Bravo (23rd minute) 1-0
Bravo (53) 2-0
Fano (72) 2-1
Fano (74, pen) 2-2

Pumas: yellow: Leandro (a tackle, pretty soft card), Espinosa (poorly timed tackle), Castro (tackle), Bernal (the penalty)
Atlante: yellow: Solis, Amione

Pumas Players Ratings

Bernal 5: Some poor punches in the first half, and made a real mess of comiing out when conceding the penalty.
Velarde 6: Did ok, especially when Pumas were on top.
Palacios 5 : His worst game for a while - too many mistakes, and partly at fault for both goals.
Verón 7: As solid as ever.
Espinosa 7: Keeps trying and good cross for the goal. Was unlucky to be booked.
Castro 6: Solid without ever suggesting he was going to control the game.
Leandro 6: Needs to be more influential, but fed the forwards well.
Rojas 7: The best I have seen from him. Unlucky not to score and some good running.
Cortés 5: How many games can he have where he goes missing?
Dante 8: Lots of movement, commitment and effort. Not a goalscorer but combines well with Bravo.
Bravo 9: An excellent performance. Not just the goals, but also pace skill and understanding. Why oh why did Vázquez bring him off?
Palencia 5: Ponderous and played far too deep.
Quiñones & Orrantia: On for too little time to make an impact.

Guillermo Vázquez 5: Picked an exciting lineup to start with, but his substitution of Bravo is the worst error of his time as Pumas manager. It may be that the decision to substitute Bravo was taken before the game or for non-footballing reasons, which clearly makes matters worse!

Elsewhere in Mexico
This week the Mexican Federation in its wisdom decided to take action over the 'scandal' involving the international squad's party at a Monterrey hotel two weeks ago. Deciding that some players (actually the majority of the squad) had broken the rules of the Federation regarding player conduct, they promptly fined all the players involved 50,000 pesos. In addition, purportedly because these players had invited "non-guests" to their hotel rooms, Carlos Vela and Efraín Juárez were banned from international football for 6 months.
Ever since the Federation announced its sanctions, senior players and journalists have been coming forward to criticize the decision.  Cuauhtémoc Blanco, Juan Francisco Palencia and Rafael Márquez were amongst the first to point out that the match was over and the players were essentially on their own time. Additionally the management had apparently agreed to the get-together. The two players banned are young and single and in any case, it was pointed out,  if there was any impropriety it is essentially between them and their conscience. The latest news is that the 13 sanctioned players have all asked not to be selected for the National Team (through a letter written to the Federation by Rafael Márquez). The arguments seem set to continue, but it would be out of character for the Mexican Federation to do a u-turn

Returning to action on the field, Mexican clubs had a tougher time this week in the Concacaf Champions League. The only of the four to win was Monterrey, who hosted Seattle Sounders and with 20 minutes left were two down. Only some excellent play from star substitute Humberto "Chupete" Suazo, who scored one and set up two (including a dubious penalty) allowed the home side to sneak home 3-2.

The other three teams were not so lucky. Cruz Azul managed a tame 0-0 draw at home to Toronto, while the alternative Toluca squad fell 2-1 in Honduras to Olímpia. A late strike by Andrés Mendoza saw Santos lose by the only goal to Columbus Crew in Ohio. All the Mexican teams remain in the top two places and well-placed to qualify.

On Friday night leaders Cruz Azul came upon a determined Necaxa team and lost 2-1 in the Estadio Victoria despite an injury-time headed equaliser by goalkeeper Jesús Corona. Referee Fabricio Morales disallowed the goal for a (non-existant) foul and then gave Corona his second booking after the distraught keeper protested. He now misses the América match.

Neither Monterrey nor Santos could take advantage of Cruz Azul's slip. There was more controversy as Querétaro thought they had grabbed a 1-0 lead over Monterrey when Sergio Ortemán's shot bounced down from the bar on or over the line. With the uncertainty the goal was not given and Monterrey held on for a 0-0 draw. Santos meanwhile lost in a thriller in the Azteca to América. Going ahead early on through a Benítez header, they saw a Matías Vuoso inspired attack pull América 3-1 up before edging back to 3-2 at half time. A more sedate second half saw no more goals and a victory for the 'Águilas'.

Jaguares notched their third victory in a row with a 2-1 home win over San Luis, the winner by Carlos Ochoa. Pachuca finally got a win with a 3-1 result at home to Estudiantes, while Alfredo "El Chango" Moreno returned to goalscoring form as he eased Atlas's relegation worries with the only goal in a 1-0 win over Puebla.

After their Saturday game was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch in Monterrey, Tigres and Chivas had another go on Sunday and played out a 1-1 draw. Francisco Acuña opened the scoring for the home side, and Miguel Ponce grabbed the equaliser for Chivas. Finally Toluca continued their good run with a 2-1 win in Morelia. Nestor Calderón taking advantage of a rebound to poke in the winner.

So Cruz Azul remain top of the General Classification and Group 3. Monterrey lead Group 1 from Santos, and Toluca remain ahead of América at the top of Group 2.

Next Up
More Concacaf Champions League games involving Cruz Azul v Arabe Unido of Panama, Monterrey at Saprissa, Toluca in Puerto Rico against the islanders, and Santos hosting Joe Public of Trinidad.

In next week's league games Pumas host Morelia in CU. The two derbies, Cruz Azul v América and Chivas v Atlas catch the eye, and Santos face a tough task against improving Toluca.

1 comentario:

  1. I enjoyed a lot the first 65 or 70 minutes of this game. I could see a well organized team, every player was playing where they supossed to. We didn't see Leandro and Veron running all over the field trying to score, what is really good because the game wasn't support in 2 players.

    Then, I can't understad why did Memo Vazquez took Bravo out of the game when he was the one that made the 2 gol... And suddenly, Atlante equalized in 8 minutes.

    It was not a good surprise. I hope Memo Vázquez rethink about how he moves the players during the next games.