By DANIEL PRICE
Santos Laguna condemned Club Tijuana to yet another defeat on the road, as Xolos failed to celebrate their 100th Liga MX game with a win.
Buoyed by their victory in the Copa Libertadores on Tuesday, Santos started brightly and led inside fifteen minutes via a penalty. Xolos will likely feel aggrieved at the referee’s handball decision, as Juan Carlos Nuñez appeared unable to get out of the way of the ball before being struck on the hand. Juan Pablo Rodriguez made no mistake with his kick, sending the ball beyond the keeper’s reach and into the net.
Santos doubled the lead just six minutes later. Tijuana was again the architect of its own downfall, as Saucedo failed to deal with a cross and allowed Mauro Cejas to roll the ball into an empty net.
Xolos managed to get one back before halftime through midfielder Christian Pellerano, but Darwin Quintero quickly restored the two goal advantage in the 49th minute by smashing in Peralta’s through-ball.
Yet again Xolos reduced the deficit, as in the 60th minute Fidel Martínez scored his first goal of the campaign. Santos’ defense had failed to clear a hopeful long ball which gave the forward the time to pick his spot and drive the ball past Sanchez for 3-2.
Tijuana’s Corona spurned a great chance to equalize and Santos’ Peralta had a goal ruled out for offside, but ultimately neither side could add to the score and Los Guerreros went home with all three points.
Here’s a closer look at the best of Liga MX from Clausura Round 7:
SECOND STRAIGHT DEFEAT FOR CLUB AMERICA
Morelia banished the ghosts of their recent Copa Libertadores exit by earning their first Liga MX win under Eduardo de la Torre and moving within a point of the playoff places.
Club America have now lost successive games 1-0 and are not reaching the same levels that they achieved throughout 2013. The fans had demanded an improvement on their lackluster defeat to Pachuca in Round Six, but Las Águilas never looked like winning the game as they produced an equally tepid performance.
Christian Valdez scored the only goal of the game in the 62nd minute as he drilled Armando Zamorano’s through-ball into the left corner of the net.
The defeat sees America stay third in the table, but they are now seven points behind pacesetters Cruz Azul and only two points ahead of eighth-place Queretaro in the final Liguilla spot.
ATLANTE KEEP PRESSURE ON ATLAS IN RELEGATION BATTLE
Pachuca have been playing well in 2014 and most observers would have predicted them to comfortably beat Atlante at the Estadio Hidalgo, yet it was Los Azulgranas who came away with a shocking win and a vital three points.
Roberto Gutiérrez Díaz won the game for the Cancun-based side with a fortuitous 26th minute goal. The striker latched onto a long ball and took advantage of a lucky ricochet off Pachuca’s goalkeeper which enabled him to roll the ball home.
Atlante are now in 13th place with 8 points, only 4 points behind third-place America in testament to the unpredictability of this year’s Clausura. More importantly though, the defeat sees Atlante move onto 88 points in the relegation table and keep within touching distance of Atlas above them.
BEST OF THE REST
The city of Monterrey’s miserable 2014 continues, with Tigres drawing their fourth game of season in Chiapas and Rayados going down 2-0 at home to Club Leon. Cruz Azul needed a 93rd minute Marco Fabian winner to beat Puebla 1-0, while Toluca stayed second with a comfortable 3-0 in Veracruz.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Omar Bravo, Chivas de Guadalajara: A brace from Omar Bravo saw Chivas move up to fourth in the league and continue their remarkable turnaround in 2014. They have only lost once in the Clausura and find themselves level on points with America.
Here’s a look at the full results from Clausura Round 7 in Liga MX:
Morelia 1, Club America 0
Santos Laguna 3, Club Tijuana 2
Cruz Azul 1, Puebla 0
Veracruz 0, Toluca 3
Monterrey 0, Club Leon 2
Pachuca 0, Atlante 1
Chiapas 0, Tigres UANL 0
Pumas UNAM 1, Atlas 1
Chivas de Guadalajara 2, Queretaro 1