See the goals here.
After last week's turgid win in CU, this game was undoubtedly the liveliest of the weekend, with plenty of action and passion. Ultimately what cost Pumas was a lack of organisation in defence, mostly due to the absence of Darío Verón on international duty.
Guillermo Vázquez started with regular left back Efraín Velarde in the centre alonside 'Pikolín' Palacios, and placed one-time right back Luis Fuentes at left-back. The lack of experience in these positions was to tell as the game wore on. Dante and Bravo again started up front, looking to create the spark that looked so good for an hour against Atlante. Pachuca's Edgar Benítez joined the same Paraguayan squad as Verón and was replaced by Víctor Mañón, in an otherwise unchanged 'tuzo' team.
The game began at a frantic pace, with Pumas in particular eager to get forward and erase memories of last week's sterility. Dante and Bravo again showed how they can create space working in tandem, and almost immediately the home defence was stretched. It took only until the 11th minute for Pumas to be ahead. Javier Muñoz lost the ball coming out of defence, Martín Bravo drove forwards and slipped the ball right to Dante López who blasted past Calero for the lead.
After the goal Pumas refused to sit back, and the commitment that Vázquez has made about creating a more attack-minded team seemed more than just promises. Leandro and Chiapas were switching places and working well down the left flank, while Dante and Bravo probed down the middle. Even Cortés who has often been quiet on the right hand side was contributing. The chances continued to come, with Chiapas pulling a save out of Calero, and Bravo latching onto a nice through ball from Dante only to shoot wide after rounding the keeper.
All the creative football was coming from the university team, but one always felt there was danger from Pachuca's set pieces, as former Puma Braulio Luna has a habit of doing well against his old team. After a couple of nervous moments from corners, Braulio finally got one spot on and Pachuca were level. Leobardo López rose free of any defensive attention and headed past the helpless Bernal. It was clear at this point that the experiment of Velarde as a centre-back looked flawed and Pumas fans may have wondered about the logic of not continuing with the experienced Carlos Humberto González in the squad.
Encouraged by the goal Pachuca began to battle hard and the spell of quarter of an hour before the break was more intense. Nevertheless all that was really achieved for either side was a booking each for Cvitanich and Cortés.
Pablo Marini, the Tuzos coach, must have examined the weaknesses in the Pumas defence at half time, because Pachuca came out determined to exploit them. If they could get the ball into the right areas then Pumas would struggle at the back. And sure enough in the first minute of the second half the ball ended up with Brambila on the left, and his speculative cross was headed in unmarked by Cvitanich. Worse was to follow. Barely ten minutes later, a dreadful mix up between Fuentes and Velarde let Cvitanich free down the right and he squared for a (yet again) unmarked Mañón to sweep past Bernal.
A night of promise had turned sour for Pumas in just ten minutes, and heads began to drop a little. Fuentes, maybe partly to blame for the goal, went off for Palencia, and Jehu Chiapas dropped back to left back. Given his recent performances it was optimistic that the veteran forward could spark a revival but at least it was an attacking gesture. In this period Pumas were able to get forward, but without the attacking threat of earlier on, and a series of corners amounted to nothing as the game began to drift towards a comfortable Pachuca victory.
Surprisingly the withdrawal of Bravo for Cacho seemed to bring about a certain revival. Building up a head of steam the away side began to create opportunities. After a solid Leandro free kick was palmed away by Calero, Dante worked Cacho free on the edge of the area but his effort was weak and easily saved. Then Orrantía angled in and shot over the bar from a promising position, while Castro also saw a good effort saved.
Just as it looked as though all their efforts would bear no fruit, on 90 minutes Pumas pulled one back. Chiapas fired a low ball in from the left, and although Palencia should have scored, Cacho was sliding in behind him to put the ball into the net. A foul by Rojas allowed Pumas to dream of the equaliser as time drifted away. Cacho struck an excellent free kick but Calero pulled off a stunning save and the points were safe for Pachuca.
All in all a promising performance from Pumas, undone by defensive frailty. Perhaps they are on the right track, but they now need desperately to pick up points if they are to qualify for the Liguilla. Pachuca continue their good run and go above Pumas on goal difference, with both teams on 15 points. More importantly perhaps, Pachuca move to within two of leaders Toluca in Group2, while Pumas fall out of a qualifying spot to third in Group 3.
Pachuca: Miguel Calero, Leobardo López, Carlos Gerardo Rodríguez, Javier David Muñoz Mustafá, Marco Vidal, Edy Brambila, Braulio Luna, Juan Carlos Rojas, Víctor Mañón, Darío Cvitanich, Carlos Peña. Manager: Pablo Marini
Pumas: Sergio Bernal, Efraín Velarde, Marco Antonio 'Pikolín' Palacios, Jehu Chiapas, Luis Fuentes (Juan Fransico Palencia 58), Fernando Espinosa, Israel Castro, Leandro Augusto, Dante López, Martín Bravo (Juan Carlos Cacho 75), Javier Cortés (Carlos Emilio Orrantia 65). Manager: Guillermo Vázquez
Dante López (11th minute) 0-1
Leobardo López (32) 1-1
Darío Cvitanich (46) 2-1Víctor Manon (55) 3-1Juan Carlos Cacho (91) 3-2 Cards Pachuca: yellow: Cvitanich, Rojas, Calero, Munoz. Pumas: yellow: Fuentes, Cortés, Castro (all for fairly innocuous tackles)
Pumas Players Ratings
Bernal 6: No chance for the goals. A couple of regulation saves.
Velarde 5: Looked out of his depth at centre-back.
Palacios 6: Tried hard but struggled to organise the defence in the absence of Verón.
Fuentes 5: Perhaps unfair to throw him in on the left but he and Velarde didn't look right.
Espinosa 5: Has to be partly responsible as a senior player for the poor defensive show.
Chiapas 6: Some nice moves and a great cross for the second goal.
Castro 6: More creative, and protected the defence well, just unable to help on marking at crosses.
Leandro 6: Galloped nicely down the left hand side.
Bravo 7: Another spirited display.
Dante 7: Good finish and combined well with Bravo once again.
Cortés 6: Lively again. Some of the younger players are finding it hard to be consistent, so an encouraging sign.
Cacho 6: A poor miss but a well taken goal and nice free kick. He seems less sluggish and perhaps fitter.
Palencia 5: Continues to look off the pace. He should have scored the goal that Cacho got but was too slow to get there.
Orrantia 5: Got into some good positions and one or two nice touches. Pity about the missed chance.
Vázquez 5: Thumbs up for a much more attacking performance, and getting a better show out of Cacho. Thumbs down for overseeing a poorly organised defence.
Elsewhere in Mexico These are interesting times for Mexican football. Ahead of Mexico's 2-2 draw in Ciudad Juárez against Venezuela (goals by 'Chicharito' Hernández and Giovanni Dos Santos) Néstor de la Torre, Head of Team Selection for the Mexican Federation, announced his resignation from the post. Given that he was at the centre of the players' furore following the party in Monterrey, his decision to go and the subsequent revelation by Justino Compeán, the Federation President, that he had apologised to the players, looks like an attempt to save face and move on. Meanwhile it has also been announced that the new manager will be revealed next week, and that it will either be Manuel de la Torre ('el Chepo') the Toluca manager (ironically Néstor's brother) or Víctor Manuel Vucetich ('el Vuce'), of Monterrey. The latter has a lot more managerial experience, having led 9 top flight clubs, and taken the title with four of them. 'El Chepo' has managed Chivas and Toluca. Meanwhile in the league, a Nicolás Pavlovich goal gave Necaxa a much needed 1-0 win at home to Puebla. A 2-2 draw between Querétaro and Chivas did little for either team. Chivas languish on 12 points while the home team "Gallos Blancos" of Querétaro are now bottom of the relegation table. A later Héctor Almirano penalty saved the draw for the home side. Jaguares continued their good run with a 2-0 home win against struggling Atlante. The goals came from Uruguayan Jorge Marcelo Rodríguez and Brazilian Danilo Verón. Ex-Pumas manager Ricardo 'El Tuca' Ferretti gained his best win in this spell as Tigres manager as his team thrashed Estudiantes in the 'Volcán'. Itamar Batista grabbed two and missed a penalty in a 5-0 victory. Atlas relieved some of their relegation worries as a last minute winner from Gerardo Espinoza (another ex-Puma) saw them beat San Luis 2-1. Sunday's games proved uninspiring as all three ended in 0-0 draws: Santos were unable to open up Morelia; Monterrey and América cancelled each other out and Cruz Azul missed chance after chance to let Toluca off the hook. All this means that Santos and Monterrey are still clear in the qualifying spots in Group 1 with 23 and 22 points respectively. Tigres move to 3rd with 15. In Group 2 Toluca lead with 17, but there are four teams within two points. Cruz Azul lead Group 3 with 25 points, from Jaguares (16), but apart from Cruz Azul all the teams (including Pumas on 15) in the group are within four points of each other. Next Up There are no more international fixtures this year, so perhaps with the announcement of the new manager on the 18th this long-running story can come to an end. The final Concacaf Champions League group games take place this week:Santos v Municipal (Guatemala)Real Salt Lake (US) v Cruz AzulToluca v FAS (El Salvador)Marathón (Honduras) v Monterrey Santos need a point while Toluca need to win to go through. The other Mexican teams have already qualified. Pumas host Jaguares next Sunday. Other interesting fixtures include Cruz Azul v Santos and Monterrey v Toluca.