Thanks to a bit of luck, and a standout performance from midfielder Guido Rodriguez, Club Tijuana was able to sneak past Santos Laguna with a narrow 2-1 victory on Sunday night.
Although Xolos dominated possession, Los Guerreros will likely feel frustrated after hitting the woodwork twice during the loss. It must also be noted that the home team racked up more shots and corners against the visiting Tijuana side that sat back after finding two goals by the 63rd minute.
Despite the late pressure from Santos, which was seen at the end of the 1st and 2nd halves, Los Guerreros were constantly stifled by Rodriguez, Xolos’ defensive midfielder.
Many will point to names like Dayro Moreno, Gabriel Hauche or Federico Vilar as the most important players this season, but if you’re looking for consistency, look no further than Rodriguez. At the risk of constantly over-hyping the Liga MX newcomer, it’s difficult to ignore the incessant work that the 22-year-old Argentine provides for Tijuana in every match.
With his tireless tackling, intercepting and distribution of the ball, the defensive midfielder has emerged as a vital cog in Miguel “Piojo” Herrera’s starting XI. The fact that the newcomer has done this after recently arriving over the summer, and at only 22 years of age, makes this even more impressive.
During Sunday’s game, Rodriguez gained even more notoriety after scoring Tijuana’s first goal in the win against Santos. The goal was his second of the season for Xolos. With his height and strength, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the midfielder gain one or two more this year off set-pieces.
Others must also be given recognition as well. Aviles Hurtado, who scored Tijuana’s game-winning goal, was once again highly active and impressive with his attacking movement. Moreno and Hauche were also eager to shine and easily found plenty of space to run with the ball. Kevin Gutierrez has stepped up in a central midfield role and is proving that he has the capabilities to keep his spot as a starter. In defense, Juan Carlos Valenzuela was once again crucial with his solid presence.
Despite the fact that there was some scary moments from Los Guerreros’ attack, Herrera’s men were eventually able to walk away with a win, and a spot back at first place in the league table.
As mentioned last week, although there are no guarantees yet, the playoffs await Xolos.
Other results from Week 11
Chiapas 2-2 Necaxa
After taking an early 2-0 lead by the 33rd minute, Necaxa later fell apart against a Chiapas roster that scored twice against the visiting side. Despite the point gained in the comeback, Los Jaguares are still in last place.
Tigres 0-0 Cruz Azul
While Tigres finished the game without a single shot on target, Cruz Azul did slightly better with only two during the 90 minutes. Tigres manager Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti has once again avoided another loss in his current undefeated streak in the Apertura tournament.
Morelia 2-3 Puebla
By far, the most exciting and dramatic finish of the weekend. By the time that the 80th minute had rolled around, Morelia had found itself with a 2-0 lead. Moments later, Puebla’s Alvaro Navarro scored a goal in the 82nd, 85th and 94th minutes. Incredible.
Atlas 3-1 Monterrey
With two goals to his name, Atlas’ Jahir Barraza carried the Guadalajara club to an impressive win over Monterrey. The clock is now ticking for Rayados manager Antonio Mohamed.
Pachuca 2-0 Queretaro
A simple win for Pachuca against a Queretaro starting XI that was rarely dangerous for long stretches of time. Striker Franco Jara looked like the man of the match with his goal and assist in the victory.
America 2-1 Pumas
Big win for new America manager Ricardo La Volpe. Thanks to quick goals from Pablo Aguilar and William Da Silva in the first five minutes, Las Aguilas were able to find a valuable three points during Saturday’s Clasico Capitalino.
Toluca 1-1 Leon
Toluca’s Pablo Barrientos is on fire. The Argentine now has three goals and two assists in his last four games. With Barrientos recently leading the charge, Toluca has looked like a dark horse for this season’s title.