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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.

Vancouver breaks club transfer record to sign Canada’s Cavallini

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Vancouver Whitecaps got their man.

The MLS outfit announced that acquisition of Lucas Cavallini on Monday, adding one of Liga MX’s regular producers to the British Columbian attack.

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Cavallini, 26, is one of the Canadian national team’s biggest threats, combining with Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David in its most promising unit in years. He has 11 goals in 17 caps for Canada, including the second marker of a 2-0 defeat of the USMNT earlier this year.

He was a double-digit scorer in his last two full seasons in Mexico and has 30 goals in parts of three seasons with Puebla.

It took an undisclosed club record transfer fee for the Caps to land their new No. 9, with multiple outlets saying that fee is $6 million.

Vancouver missed the playoffs last season, but has some promising players including South Korean international Hwang In-boem.

Here is the man of the hour, via WhitecapsFC.com:

“I am happy to be here, happy for this opportunity, happy this club pushed for me, and it feels great.” added Cavallini. “I am thankful to a lot people here in Vancouver, from the ownership, to Axel Schuster and coach Marc Dos Santos. The team has brought me here for a reason and I have to do what I love to do, which is score goals and give the fans a lot to cheer about.”

Liga MX striker picks goalkeeper’s pocket to score winner

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The difference between top and bottom: one stoppage time goal.

But it’s not just any goal.

First-placed Chivas Guadalajara and last-placed Puebla squared off in Liga MX action on Saturday, and with the game tied 2-2 in injury time and both teams down to 10 men, the winning moment came on a laughable goalkeeping mistake.

As Puebla netminder Cristian Campestrini looked to encourage his teammates to push forward for one more attack, he lost concentration for just a moment, costing him and his team. He placed the ball on the ground and looked up to take aim for his boot, without realizing Chivas striker Carlos Fierro was right behind him, waiting for Campestrini to do just that.

Fierro then picked his pocket, rounded the shocked goalkeeper, and scored the winner.

Not only did Fierro steal the ball in a moment of weakness, but he then added insult to injury by rounding the Puebla goalkeeper while he floundered on the ground, hoping to bear crawl his way to a big stop. It wasn’t to be, and Fierro bagged the big goal.

That kept Chivas two points in front at the top of the Clausura 2017 table, while Puebla is a point in the basement.

Liga MX roundup: Pumas, Santos earn victories on the road

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As the Apertura season comes to a close for a few teams, Santos managed to end the campaign on a positive note, while Pumas finished up two goals and as many players against Puebla.

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Puebla 0-3 Pumas

When Patricio Araujo earned a straight red card heading into the halftime break, it was only a sign of things to come for Puebla on the evening. When Francisco Torres was shown a second red card for Puebla, it spelt the end of their chances of winning. Pumas took advantage of playing up a man and gained the lead in the 54th minute when Pablo Barrera converted from the penalty spot. Matias Britos doubled the lead for the visitors nine minutes later after tapping in a Barrera cross from close range, before Barrera netted his second goal of the match in the 81st minute.

Pumas moves up to sixth in the table with Sunday’s victory, while Puebla drops to 12th based on goal differential.

Toluca 1-2 Santos

Santos created some separation from last-place side Chiapas on Sunday after picking up three points on the road against Toluca. Goals from Carlos Izquierdoz and Jonathan Rodriguez helped pace Santos, who now sit on 16 points. Izquierdoz broke the deadlock after 27 minutes when the Santos man headed home a Walter Sandoval corner kick, while Rodriguez doubled the advantage for the visitors with under a quarter hour remaining.

Toluca managed to pull a goal back late through Maikon Leite in the 89th minute, but the hosts couldn’t knick a result. The loss puts Toluca in 10th place on 24 points, as the side closes out the Apertura season.

El Tri legend Cuauhtémoc Blanco carried off field a Copa MX champion after a mere 23 year career

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Cuauhtémoc Blanco is retiring a champion after helping Puebla to a 4-2 win over Chivas Guadalajara in the Copa MX Clausura final at Olimpico Universitario BUAP Stadium on Tuesday.

The 42-year-old forward may be best known for his exploits with Club America and the Mexican national team, and here for his time with the Chicago Fire, but played for many teams over the course of a 23-year career.

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He’s retiring after playing the final 20 minutes of the title match, lifting a trophy and… going off to run for Mayor of Cuernavaca, according to MLSSoccer.com.

As a side note, check out unused sub and USMNT veteran Herculez Gomez in the above photo. Michael Orozco is a regular starter for Puebla.

source: Getty ImagesBlanco netted 39 times in 120 caps for Mexico, and took a ceremonial turn for El Tri this year.

He was part of two Gold Cup winners and has the 1999 Confederations Cup title to his credit, too.

On the club side, Blanco was an MLS Best XI member for Chicago, and scored 18 goals in parts of three seasons. His most prolific days came with Club America, where he scored 125 goals in 333 appearances.

Blanco also played for Real Valladolid, Veracruz, Necaxa, Iraputo, Sinaloa and BUAP.

It’s impossible not to respect the achievements of Blanco, even as begrudging admirers from the U.S. side. Godspeed, Cuauhtémoc, and… enjoy politics?