Liga MX

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Tijuana is ruthless with an early lead

Tijuana
Riascos deployed his signature celebration after scoring against Tigres.
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Kyle McCarthy

Kyle McCarthy writes about the beautiful game for FOX Soccer, the Boston Herald and several other publications. Follow him on Twitter.

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Club Tijuana has established a rather ruthless habit of protecting early leads on the way to the pinnacle of Mexican soccer.

Antonio Mohamed's outfit squeezes the life out of a match better than any other side in Mexico. Several clubs – Club León, for example – inspire little confidence when entrusted with a lead. Tijuana, meanwhile, usually just sees out the match with little fanfare on the way to collecting another three points.

Tijuana created the proper foundation to replicate the feat yet again when Alfredo Moreno benefited from a pair of defensive errors to open the scoring after 13 minutes in the 2-2 draw at Tigres on Saturday night. And, for a while, it looked like the Xolos would continue along their usual path in this top of the table clash.

The eventual response from the home side showed why Tigres has started the season so brightly and underscored the reasons behind its perch at the top of its league. Instead of succumbing to the inevitable frustrations associated with playing against the Xolos, Tigres improved after the interval and struck back with the force required to turn the game.

Ricardo Ferretti's side established the necessary tempo with a bright start to the second half and laid the groundwork for the equalizer eight minutes after halftime. Tigres transitioned through the middle third quickly to stretch out Tijuana's usually stout shape. Carlos Salcido's clever pass from the right side found Lucas Lobos scampering behind the ragged Tijuana back four for the simplest of finishes.

Juninho's inch-perfect tackle on Duvier Riascos and another tidy passing sequence produced Lobos' second goal in the 65th minute. Four passes swept the ball through the middle third and from the left to the right side. Daniliho's properly weighted square pass finished off the break and permitted Lobos to round Cirilo Saucedo with a deft first touch and tap home with his second.

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Unfortunately for the home side, the night did not end on that positive note. Another defensive error – in this instance, a poor header by Israel Jiménez – allowed Riascos to lash home to clinch a point for the Xolos and worm his way into the far corner in celebration. The manner of Tijuana's second produced a furious reaction from Ferretti, but he will likely take plenty of positives from this match with the benefit of some time to reflect.

Tigres' ability to move neatly and swiftly through midfield, produce the necessary quality in the final third and thrive under adverse circumstances bodes well for its success as the Clausura progresses. Ferretti must find a way to rectify the lapses by his more than capable defensive group to establish the necessary solidity, but this display – and the previous performances by Clausura top scorer Emanuel Villa (five goals) and his teammates – suggests Tigres possesses the necessary tools to continue its run through the remainder of the campaign.

Around Liga MX – Jornada 5

Deadline day came and went in Mexico with a minimum of fuss. Although several players – including Monterrey's Aldo de Nigris (Wigan) and Tijuana's Duvier Riascos (VfB Stuttgart) – were linked with moves to Europe over the past few weeks, Mexican clubs leaned on their relative financial strength to brush aside most offers and focus on limiting most potential movement to the summer window. The most notable immediate move – Villarreal's purchase of Cruz Azul and Mexico winger Javier Aquino – occurred due to Aquino's expiring contract rather than any financial pressures exerted upon the capital club.

Atlante could not postpone the health-induced departure of ex-Mexico boss Ricardo La Volpe this week. The Cancún-based side turned to the well-traveled Daniel Guzmán to fill the breach after La Volpe stepped aside due to heart problems. Guzmán prompted an immediate response from his struggling side in the surprising 3-1 victory over Monterrey. Francisco Fonseca, Christian Maidana and Esteban Paredes scored after halftime to hand Atlante its first win of the season before de Nigris notched a consolation goal for the visitors.

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CD Guadalajara and San Luis faltered in their attempts to replicate Atlante's accomplishment in a 1-1 draw at Estadio Omnilife. Marco Fabián opened the scoring for the home side after 23 minutes, but Mauro Matos equalized early in the second half to claim a share of the spoils and prolong the winless runs for both sides.

Club León also continued its barren start to the season with a 2-2 home draw against Cruz Azul. León responded twice to Mariano Pavone strikes in order to secure a point. The result, however, did little to diminish the disappointment of exiting the Copa Libertadores in Chile on Tuesday or halt the dreadful run of form to start the Liga MX campaign.

Jaguares maintained its place in the quartet of clubs unable to produce a victory through five rounds after a 2-1 home defeat to resurgent Atlas. Querétaro slipped to a 3-0 defeat at third-place Club América to fall five points off the pace in the relegation battle.

Pachuca (1-0 over Toluca) and Puebla (3-1 over nine-man Morelia) both garnered their second wins of the Clausura to remain firmly entrenched mid-table, while Pumas and Santos Laguna played to the first scoreless draw of the Clausura in Mexico City.

Kyle McCarthy writes about the beautiful game for FOX Soccer, the Boston Herald and several other publications. Follow him on Twitter @kylejmccarthy.

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