FOX Soccer Exclusive
Queretaro hopes hanging by thread
Desperation swept through Querétaro from the opening whistle on Saturday. The urgency started with the fans waving blue and white flags and swept through the players trying to stave off the seemingly inevitable descent into Ascenso MX.
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Atlas' surprising start to the Clausura created this cauldron. The two teams entered this campaign on level terms in the fight against relegation. Parity soon transformed into considerable advantage as Tomás Boy's side produced results week after week. Querétaro entered this meeting with nine points to recover between now and the end of the season. Nothing less than victory would suffice for Gallos Blancos.
It showed in the early stages at La Corregidora. The home side assumed control of the match from the outset and pressed forward in search of the critical opener. Julio Nava embarked upon several promising forays on the left. Wilberto Cosme bullied his marker into a mistake, lobbed over the onrushing Miguel Pinto and watched his effort fall on the wrong side of the bar.
All of the nervous energy expended in the opening 20 minutes or so ultimately yielded to the typical ebb and flow of a match between relegation contenders. Atlas found its footing without producing much in terms of attacking thrust. Querétaro reinforced the underpinnings of its current predicament by struggling to create the necessary opportunities in the final third.
Querétaro coach Ignacio Ambriz threw Amaury Escoto into the fray with a half-hour to play in a bid to alter the dynamic. Diego de la Torre soon forced Pinto into a fine diving save with his effort from distance shortly after Escoto's arrival, but the necessary breakthrough appeared more likely to occur during the inevitable scramble in the waning moments of the game.
Potential salvation nearly arrived as a result of that last push. Marco Antonio Jiménez unleashed a sidefooted attempt entirely out of place in a match of this meager quality. For a moment, the effort looked like it would dip just under the bar and provide some hope for a great escape. Pinto dashed those dreams by acrobatically tipping the shot over the frame to preserve the 0-0 stalemate.
The final whistle turned desperation to dejection as reality descended upon Querétaro. Only a miracle will save Gallos Blancos now. And no amount of ardent desire to rectify the situation will contradict the relegation table or obscure the fact that the latest setback neatly captured the reasons why Ascenso MX beckons in the fall.
Around Liga MX – Jornada 8
Atlas continued its surprising push for the title with the draw against its nominal relegation rivals, but Liga MX top scorer Emanuel Villa ensured Tigres concluded the weekend with a three-point gap over the second-placed side from Guadalajara. Villa struck twice in the first 26 minutes to increase his haul to eight goals on the season in a 2-1 victory at Cruz Azul.
Club América now sits four points off the pace alongside Club Tijuana after slipping to a 1-0 defeat at Santos Laguna. Carlos Darwin Quintero provided the difference between the sides in Torreón with his effort after 19 minutes. Raul Arambula and Duvier Riascos ensured the reserve-laden Xolos did not suffer the same fate in a straightforward 2-0 home victory over Atlante.
Morelia received an immediate boost from the appointment of former player and assistant coach Carlos Julio Bustos as manager earlier this week. Bustos – hired to replace the departed Ruben Omar Romano – watched Héctor Mancilla score either side of halftime to hand Monarcas a thrilling 3-2 victory over visiting Pachuca.
Bottom side San Luis did not receive a similar uptick in form by dismissing Eduardo Fentanes and installing Carlos Maria Morales on Monday. Pumas eased to a 2-0 victory after Robin Ariel Ramírez and Javier Cortés scored in the first six minutes of the second half in San Luis Potosí.
Marco Fabián inspired C.D. Guadalajara to a 2-1 win over Club León at Estadio Omnilife. The clever schemers opened the scoring after 10 minutes and pounced for the winner in the final quarter of an hour to hand Chivas its first home win of the Clausura.
Monterrey remained within striking distance of the Liguilla and reversed its recent poor run with an emphatic 3-0 home victory over fellow chasers Puebla. Veteran poachers Aldo de Nigris (two goals) and Humberto Suazo (one from the spot) combined to ease the Rayados back on track against the 10-man visitors.
Toluca responded to its midweek setback to Nacional in Copa Libertadores play by staging a two-goal fightback to dispatch Jaguares at La Bombonera. Luis Gabriel Rey opened the scoring for the visitors after 17 minutes, but Lucas Silva and Flavio Santos replied in the second half to salvage the expected result.
Kyle McCarthy writes about the beautiful game for FOX Soccer, the Boston Herald and several other publications. Follow him on Twitter @kylejmccarthy.