On the field, there are certain days when everything clicks. There are certain times when a starting XI seems to be on another level with cohesive movement and a clear understanding of one another.
For Tijuana, last Friday was one of those days. With a packed crowd at the Estadio Caliente, Los Xolos secured a dominant 4-0 win against Chivas. Tijuana was assertive with possession, lethal with attacking opportunities and solid in the backline. Striker Dayro Moreno started off the evening with a simple opportunity in the 19th minute. Following a well-placed pass from Gabriel Hauche, the Colombian only had Chivas goalkeeper Rodolfo Cota to beat with a close opportunity that gave Xolos an early 1-0 lead.
The visiting Guadalajara side quickly responded with more vigor and energy in the attack after the goal, but it was Moreno who was once again able to find the back of the net 10 minutes later. In what was arguably the best team goal for Xolos this season, Aviles Hurtado, Hauche and Moreno all took part in a quick counter that caught Chivas chasing the ball during the 29th minute. After a one-touch pass from Hurtado to Moreno in the 18-yard-box, the Colombian striker found himself with an easy chance to score his second goal of the game. Los Rojiblancos were stunned by Xolos’ active momentum and failed to close down on the defensive spaces that were left wide open for Tijuana’s attackers.
During the 40th minute, Hauche utilized this space after he was left completely open near the net and scored Xolos’ third goal of the match. By the time that halftime rolled around, it was obvious that the game was already over. Miguel “Piojo” Herrera’s men were on point against Chivas and were taking advantage of the opposition’s depleted roster and chaotic schedule for the week.
After losing to Chiapas 4-1 in the Copa MX on Tuesday, Los Rojiblancos made the trip to Tijuana for Friday and later had a friendly against Arsenal in Los Angeles set for Sunday. Xolos, on the other hand, had no inhibitions going all out against Chivas. With no match scheduled until August 6th, there was no hesitation from the attack that was keen on gaining another three points in the 2016 Apertura.
The Guadalajara side played higher up the pitch in the second half, but struggled to break down Xolos’ defensive line that was reinforced. With Juan Carlos Valenzuela back in the middle of the defense, Tijuana had no trouble keeping Chivas scoreless during Friday’s home game. A late penalty call and subsequent goal from Xolos’ Milton Caraglio was the last nail in the coffin for the visiting team during the 71st minute.
The crowd at the Estadio Caliente erupted into cheers after the goal, knowing full well that a win was secured against the Liga MX giants. There’s promise for Tijuana, and with the recent victory now under the club’s belt, there appears to be signs of the squad fighting for a spot back in the playoffs. The team is only three weeks into the season, but if Xolos continue to show the same kind of fight and spirit that was seen last week, they should easily be able to battle for a spot in the top eight of the Apertura.
Herrera summarized it best during Friday’s post-game press conference: “This is the best night for this team at home. Let’s hope to have many more nights like tonight.”
Other Liga MX results from Week 3
Queretaro 2-1 Puebla
Emanuel “Tito” Villa was the man of the match with his two first half goals for Queretaro against Puebla. With a great start from options like Villa and Neri Cardozo, Los Gallos Blancos have started off the tournament with two wins and one draw.
Monterrey 1-1 Cruz Azul
Two words for this game: Missed penalties. Los Rayados should have walked away with a victory at home against Cruz Azul but failed to convert the two penalties given during the first half. Monterrey has yet to collect a win in the tournament.
Atlas 1-0 Veracruz
Atlas was lucky to emerge with a narrow victory over Veracruz. The lone goal, which was an own-goal from a poor clearance, should have not counted after replays showed that Candido Ramirez’s cross had gone out of bounds.
Pachuca 1-0 Necaxa
No Hirving Lozano or Erick Gutierrez? No problem. After sending five players to the Olympics, Los Tuzos were still able to sneak past Necaxa with a 1-0 victory. Defender and goalscorer Stefan Medina now has three goals to his name this season.
America 0-3 Tigres
After struggling to find the back of the net during the first two matches of the Apertura, Tigres responded with a noteworthy 3-0 win over Liga MX giants, America. If you haven’t seen Javier Aquino’s or Andre-Pierre Gignac’s goals during the game, go look them up.
Pumas 1-0 Leon
Pumas goalkeeper Alejandro Palacios is currently the best player for the Mexico City side. The veteran was superb in net and helped keep Leon scoreless on Sunday afternoon. Palacios has yet to allow a goal in the Apertura.
Chiapas 1-0 Toluca
A quiet game with a difference-making moment from Chiapas’ Jesus Escoboza during the 16th minute. Former Toluca manager and current Chiapas coach Jose Cardozo will perhaps feel bittersweet defeating his old club.
Santos Laguna 2-4 Morelia
The most exciting match of the weekend finished with an excellent attacking performance from Morelia. Keep an on the team’s Peruvian striker, Raul Ruidiaz. The Liga MX newcomer finished with a hat-trick during the win and now has four goals in the competition.