Joao Rojas scored a 73-minute equalizer to rescue a 1-1 draw for Morelia in a hard-fought opening match against UNAM Pumas in the final of the Mexican Clausura tournament.
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Francisco Palencia gave Pumas the lead with a fiercely struck drive from outside the area in the 69th minute, but Rojas finished Luis Gabriel Rey’s pass to level the scores less than five minutes later.
The return match will be played in Puma’s Olimpico Universitario stadium at Mexico City on Sunday.
If the scores are still level after 90 minutes, the match will go to extra time and penalties if necessary.
Pumas are looking for their seventh national title, while Morelia is aiming for its second.
Rey had the first chance of the match in the fourth minute, escaping two markers and forcing Alejandro Palacios to tip his shot away for a corner.
Pumas responded in the 12th minute when Palencia’s shot was pushed away by Morelia goalkeeper Federico Villar. The rebound fell back into the path of Palencia, but defender Joel Huiqui cleared off the line.
The match became more subdued either side of half time until Palencia launched a shot that flew into the top right corner of Villar’s goal with just over 20 minutes to play.
The advantage was short-lived, however. Colombian striker Rey threaded a pass for compatriot Rojas’ to burst into the box and finish low past Palacios in the 73rd.
Morelia finished the stronger of the two sides but late chances for Rey and Rafael Marquez Lugo went begging to leave the final scores level.