Morelia salvages 1-1 draw in first leg vs. Pumas

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.

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.