Eduardo Vargas

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Liga MX roundup: Puebla, Tigres, León walk out winners

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Liga MX action continued this weekend with a handful of entertaining games, which were played behind closed doors amid the coronavirus pandemic. There was plenty of movement made, with León shooting to the top of the table following a convincing win against Pumas. Here’s a closer look into some of Saturday’s action.

Atlético San Luis 0-1 Puebla

Juan Reynoso’s Puebla continue on a path that is headed towards liguilla (playoffs), earning a crucial three points against San Luis on the back of goalkeeper’s Nicolas Vikonis’ penalty save. 

The win is Puebla’s third in their last four league games, placing them only a goal away from eighth-place Monarcas Morelia, who played on Friday with fans at Estadio Morelos. It’s still too early to assume that Puebla will clinch a liguilla spot, especially with six of their next seven opponents currently above the red line. But with a strong backline and semi-effective attack, they’re managing to squeeze out wins. That formula can, potentially, keep them on the path to the big party. 

Tigres 3-2 Juárez

After an unusual slow start under Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti, all things point to Tigres being back in its natural habitat. With goals from Luis Quiñones, Andre Pierre-Gignac and Eduardo Vargas, Tigres edged a valiant Juárez 3-2 in an empty Estadio Universitario.

A bout with plenty of goals, Gignac’s sequence with the head official a handful of minutes into the second half stole the show. The Frenchman was shown a straight red card for a foul on a Juarez player. Shortly after, the official – with the assistance of VAR – decided to void the red card and showed Gignac a yellow. Less than two minutes later, Tigres’ all-time leading scorer gave his team the lead.

Chile international Eduardo Vargas added a third in 76th minute, giving Tigres a game-winning goal.

León 3-1 Pumas

For now, with 21 points after 10 games, León are leaders of Liga MX. La Fiera are bouncing back in strong fashion following a low-blow Concacaf Champions League exit in the hands of LAFC and league loss to Chivas with back-to-back wins.

Staple and key players Fernando Navarro, Angel Mena and Ismael Sosa all scored in a high-tempo win against Pumas, who after starting off the season as the league’s best, are winless in their last four.

Towards the final 10 minutes of the game, former Real Salt Lake winger Sebastian Saucedo was handed his first red card as a Pumas player – a perfect illustration of the type of night it was for Míchel’s men.

Tigres scores goals around Veracruz side protesting unpaid wages

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Incredible scenes in Mexico, where CD Veracruz allowed Tigres to score in comical fashion while protesting unpaid wages.

The home crowd at Estadio Luis Pirata Fuente saw their side take the kickoff and play the ball back to the goalkeeper as the substitutes walked to the touch-line to stand in solidarity with their teammates on the pitch.

[ MORE: Interview with Claudio Reyna ]

After a little over a minute, goalkeeper Sebastian Jurado sent the ball into the Tigres half, where the visitors offered a very odd vision, dribbling and passing down the pitch to loft a ball into the unguarded goal. Tigres would score another after barely more than three minutes of play, and had a 3-0 lead after eight minutes through a goal by Andre-Pierre Gignac and an Eduardo Vargas brace.

According to the TV broadcast in Mexico, relayed by Tom Marshall of ESPN, Veracruz is upset that Tigres shot on goal during the 3-minute protest, the planned length of which they believed was communicated to the visitors.

Not a great look for Tigres.

And so the match got chippy, with Jesus Duenas of Tigres sent off in the 26th. Will Veracruz somehow fight back for a point?

Veracruz is last place in the Apertura season, while third place Tigres has buttressed its goal differential. Unreal.

2-0 didn’t feature anything too much more active from Veracruz.

WATCH LIVE: Chile takes on Ecuador in Copa America

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Chile looks to continue its hot start as the defending Copa America champions meet Ecuador in Salvador.

[ WATCH LIVE: Chile vs. Ecuador ]

The tournament favorites topped Japan 4-0 in their opener four days ago and now have the chance to snatch sole possession of first place in Group C after Uruguay’s slip against Japan last night.

Eduardo Vargas scored a double against Japan and he leads the lines again tonight supported by Alexis Sanchez and Jose Fuenzalida. Chile boss Reinaldo Rueda makes no changes to the side that won its opener in convincing fashion, looking for the blistering start to continue.

For Ecuador, they hope for a stark turnaround after being blitzed by Uruguay 4-0 in the opening match. Head coach Hernan Dario Gomez has made heavy changes to the starting lineup, most notably benching Antonio Valencia and bringing Sebastian Mendez off the bench into the midfield. He has also brought Sao Paulo center-back Robert Arboleda into the side in place of Arturo Mina who had an own-goal in the loss to Uruguay.

Ecuador has gone five matches without a win, and Gomez received a vote of confidencee from the head of the Ecuadorian federation. “We are not understanding the reality of our football and that is not the fault of one or two people,” FEF president Francisco Egas told Ecuadorian radio station La Radio Redonda on Thursday. “If we believe that the crisis of the national team is the product of one person, we make a mistake already.  Today, we are paying for things that have not been done well for several years.”

Nonetheless, a shock victory over Chile would right the ship in a heartbeat and set Ecuador up for a shot at a knockout stage slot.

Giovinco free kick highlights Toronto’s CCL semi-clinching draw (video)

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Sebastian Giovinco forced an own goal and netted a free kick as Toronto FC advanced to the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals despite a 3-2 second leg loss to UANL Tigres on Tuesday in Mexico.

Tigres scored a penalty in stoppage time, but the pair of away goals pushed TFC through on a 4-4 aggregate score line.

TFC will play Club America unless Tauro makes amends for a 4-0 deficit after one leg come Wednesday evening.

André-Pierre Gignac scored twice, one the penalty, and Eduardo Vargas also scored for Tigres.

[ MORE: Red Bulls advance past Xolos ]

The heady times started early for Toronto FC, which needed big plays from defender Chris Mavinga and goalkeeper Alex Bono in the first half.

Life got a lot harder for Tigres when Sebastian Giovinco forced an own goal in the 64th minute, though Vargas scored his second goal of the tie to give the hosts hope.

But that so-and-so Giovinco did what he does with his 73rd minute free throw free kick to lift TFC to a two-goal lead with a pair of away goals.

Gignac leveled the tie in the 84th, and then converted a penalty off a Gregory van der Wiel handball in stoppage time, but it was too little, too late for the Liga MX side.

Toronto FC 2-1 Tigres: Reds punch back

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Jonathan Osorio and Jozy Altidore scored second half goals as Toronto FC came back to top UANL Tigres 2-1 in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal at BMO Field on Wednesday.

Eduardo Vargas gave UANL Tigres a 1-0 lead, but the Liga MX side was behind the 8-ball the rest of the night.

The second leg is at 11 p.m. ET Tuesday at the Estadio Universitario.

[ MORE: USWNT wins SheBelieves Cup ]

Chances were at a premium in the first half, and the match deservedly went to halftime at nil-nil.

Tigres swapped Enner Valencia for Andre-Pierre Gignac at hafltime, giving the Reds a tactical challenge in adjusting to two very different strikers.

A moment after Jozy Altidore was stymied by Jose Francisco Torres, the big TFC striker was livid with the referee’s decision to not award him a 49th minute penalty.

Vargas beat Alex Bono in the 53rd minute, the Chilean scoring in yet another big spot.

TFC should’ve been level two minutes later, but Osorio opted for using the outside of his right foot over the natural path of Altidore’s cross to his left. The shot zipped over the goal.

Giovinco won a free kick dribbling through traffic in the 57th minute, but couldn’t get his shot to dip under the bar.

Altidore put the Reds ahead when Marky Delgado one-touched the big striker in on goal, and Altidore slid the ball home to make it 1-1.

Gignac then nearly beat Bono with a similar volley to Vargas’ goal, but the ball bounded wide of the far post.

The tide had swung in Toronto’s favor, and Giovinco won another free kick — perhaps with embellishment — near the chalk of the 18. The wall served its purpose.

Michael Bradley was at his very best in producing what could’ve easily been a go-ahead goal, swooping in front of a Tigres pass and then making a nifty 1v1 move before delivering a world-class cross that Altidore bungled on the six.

Osorio got the winner in the 89th minute, backheeling Giovinco’s cross into the Tigres goal.

Chris Mavinga made an outstanding challenge to stop Ismael Sosa late.

Here’s the winner: