PUEBLA 0-1 CLUB AMERICA (LIGA MX)
Miguel Layun’s goal after just two minutes was the difference between Club America and ten man Puebla in Liga MX.
Puebla coach Ruben Romano made two changes to the team that drew 0-0 away at Atlas in their last game with Maicon Santos and Mario de Luna replacing Gustavo Alustiza and Edgar Mejia. Antonio Mohamed made two changes as well for Club America as Rubens Sambueza was suspended after his red card in the defeat to Cruz Azul and Osvaldo Martinez dropped to the bench. They were replaced by Luis Mendoza and Juan Carlos Medina in the starting line-up.
America may have been the visitors but from the first whistle they harried Puebla and their reward was a goal after just two minutes. A long ball was collected by Raul Jimenez on the left side of the box and with little support, he was forced to go back to Miguel Layun 25 yards out. Layun came inside onto his right foot and scuffed his shot at goal. What the shot lacked in power, it made up for in accuracy as it crept past the despairing dive of Puebla goalkeeper Jorge Villalpando and into the back of the net via a little clip off the post. It was a quick start for America and one that set them on the front foot.
They had a number of chances to double their lead as Puebla struggled to contain the visitors in the first ten minutes. Medina’s corner from the right was perfect for Jesus Molina 10 yards out but the midfielder couldn’t keep his header down. Ecuadorian Luis Rey came inside onto his left foot before firing a good effort just over the bar from the edge of the area while a Paul Aguilar cross from the right was wasted when Jimenez could only head wide from 8 yards.
It was a breathless start and Puebla were only just getting into the game when they had a golden chance to equalise after 13 minutes. Uriel Alvarez picked up the ball in midfield and drove at the heart of the America defence. The defence inexplicably parted and Alvarez played the ball to an open Santos 16 yards out. The Brazilian striker swiveled and hit his shot first time past and onrushing Moises Munoz but could only put it just past the far post. It was a massive chance and Santos really should have done better.
The game began to get bogged down in midfield and became very scrappy with neither team showing much in the final third and Jimenez and Santos being starved of service. There were a couple of half chances for both sides. A Carlos Sanchez corner for Puebla was headed tamely wide by Alvarez before Jimenez managed to release Mendoza on the right side of the area but the angle for a shot decreased rapidly and in the end Mendoza could only hit his effort at Villalpando. America had a great chance after half an hour though.
Mendoza was running at the heart of the Puebla defence on an America counter attack before he was cynically pulled down 25 yards from goal by Carlos Guzman. America used a free kick routine they had clearly practiced to tee up Paul Aguilar on the edge of the area. The right back’s first time effort was mishit but needed a good save from Villalpando to turn it away.
The game settled back into it’s scrappy pattern and barring Oscar Rojas attempt from range that went way over the top for Puebla, there was little action of any not before the referee blew the half time whistle.
Half time saw the introduction of Saul Villalobos for Guzman for Puebla and the substitute almost made an impact just seconds after coming on. The ball was worked to Sanchez on the edge of the area who laid it off to Villalobos to his left. The substitute’s first time shot from 20 yards went just wide of Munoz’s by inches. It was a real let-off for America and a signal of intent from the home side.
They continued to press without much success as America looked to hit the home side on the counter in the second half. One such counter presented Jimenez with a shooting chance but he could only curl his effort wide of the far post. Puebla’s best chance fell again to Santos who flicked up an Alvarez cross before swiveling and hitting his half volley over the top from 16 yards.
America should have made it two just before the hour mark. Paul Aguilar’s long clearance was not dealt with and Jimenez was allowed to get to the byline on the right hand side. His low cross was met by a sliding Luis Rey at the near post but somehow the Ecuadorian could not steer it home from 6 yards out. It was a massive chance for America but it did not matter too much as Puebla’s hopes of a comeback were damaged just after the hour mark.
Molina and Alvarez raced to a loose ball just inside the America half and Molina reached it first comfortably. He touched it past the Puebla midfielder who had already committed to the challenge and, despite trying to pull out, caught Molina. The referee immediately brandished the red card to Alvarez and replays showed that he had jumped into the tackle with two feet and caught Molina on the ankles. There was not a huge amount of contact but it was always going to be a red card.
Puebla continued to push for an equaliser but America were always comfortable holding them at arms length and limiting them to a couple of half chances. DaMarcus Beasley’s cross from the left was headed right at Munoz by Jesus Chavez before the America keeper comfortably dealt with a Rojas free kick from the corner of the box. Yet, as Puebla were committing men forward, they were leaving huge gaps at the back which America almost exploited late on.
Layun got the ball on the left hand side and sent a low cross into the middle. Jimenez collected the ball and, when Beasley (the only defender in his vicinity) slipped, he was able to turn and face the goal. Villalpando narrowed the angles for Jimenez but the Mexican international managed to toe poke a shot past the keeper at the near post. He was denied, however, by the post and the ball rebounded clear.
America held on for the important victory as they moved up into third place in the Clausura standings, still 8 points behind second place Toluca. For Puebla, it continues a torrid Clausura campaign as they remain bottom of the table, three points behind second bottom Veracruz with two games remaining.
PUEBLA: Villalpando, Rojas, Beasley, Chavez, de Luna, Alvarez, Guzman (Villalobos 45), Torres, Noriega (Bella 81), Sanchez, Santos (Cacho 59)
Subs: Navarette, Mejia, B. Martinez, De La Barrera
CLUB AMERICA: Munoz, Paul Aguilar, Pablo Aguilar, Mosquera (c), Layun, Rodriguez, Medina, Molina, Rey (O. Martinez 68), Mendoza (Rios 75), Jimenez (Lopez 90)
Subs: Gonzalez, Pimentel, Valenzuela, Gutierrez
Yellow: Rodriguez, Molina, Layun, Rios
MAN OF THE MATCH: RAUL JIMENEZ (CLUB AMERICA)