The Tijuana Xolos played their Liga MX Clausura 2017 week 14 match last Saturday, April 15, visiting Chiapas at the Estadio Victor Manuel Reyna.
The encounter was set to be a mismatch, with Tijuana being the team with the most goals scored in the Liga MX, and Chiapas being the team that has conceded the most goals in the league.
The Aztec Canines were missing some key players in this game, Victor Aguilera and Michael Orozco being out due to injuries. Juan Carlos Nunez was also serving a suspension after a red card in the game against Queretaro last Wednesday. Head coach, Miguel Herrera, was absent from the pitch as well, serving his fifth and final game of suspension.
Herrera did go with a 4-4-2 formation. Gibran Lajud was in net, Hiram Munoz, Juan Carlos Valenzuela, Carlos Vargas, and Damian Perez made up the defense. The midfield was constructed of the Argentines, Victor Malcorra and Guido Rodriguez, and included the Americans, Paul Arriola and Joe Corona. Finally, the strike force consisted of Aviles Hurtado and Milton Caraglio. The lineup was one that was expected, with the injuries in the back line forcing ‘El Piojo’ to go with young defenders. It was nice to see Paul Arriola get his second consecutive start in a Liga MX game. The San Diego native has been in and out of the Xolos’ starting 11 this year.
The first 45 minutes of the duel were uneventful, to say the least. Both teams had some chances, Club Tijuana looking like the more dangerous team. Both teams looked sloppy in attack, being outdueled by the opposing defense. The first half was filled with crosses that ended up in the goalkeeper’s hands and shots that went way over the crossbar. Chiapas did open the score late in the half, obtaining the 1-0 lead in the 44th minute. Felix Micolta made a spectacular run at the Xolos’ defense and then passed the ball to Luis Leal inside the half-moon of the penalty area. Leal held on to the sphere, shielding off Hiram Munoz. This allowed Micolta to glide in for the ball, going past the entire defense and running around Gibran Lajud to score in front of an empty net. Chiapas did have the edge after the first 45, but did not look like they could maintain the lead in the second half.
The final 45 minutes of the game started off exciting, Chiapas losing its lead in the 46th minute. The border city side was gifted a goal by the Jaguares as the goalkeeper, Moises Munoz made a fatal error. The Mexican keeper was out of position and passed the ball right to Aviles Hurtado. This allowed the Colombian forward to easily shoot the ball at an empty net and tie the game up at a goal apiece.
After that fatal error by Chiapas’ goalkeeper, the Xolos’ goalkeeper, Gibran Lajud, emerged as a hero in the 53rd minute of the match. Julio Nava found himself one-on-one against Lajud and the Mexican goalkeeper made an incredible stop. The rebound landed at Nava’s feet, but he could not take advantage of the opportunity, blasting the sphere out of bounds. Lajud proved to be a key factor for the rest of the match. The 23-year-old made another incredible stop in the 73rd minute, stopping a shot from outside of the box from Luis Leal. Lajud leapt, to get to the shot, keeping the game at 1-1.
In the 74th minute, Diego Ramirez made an important change that went on to influence the game. Milton Caraglio was substituted for Juan Martin Lucero which made an immediate impact on the encounter. In the 76th minute, Paul Arriola passed the sphere to Juan Martin Lucero. The Argentine striker was near the right side of Chiapas’s penalty area. Lucero made a potent across-the-body shot, which landed in the left-hand corner of Moises Munoz’s net and sealed the Xolos 2-1 victory.
After that goal, the Aztec Canines defended the lead perfectly and came away with the three points from the game. With his goal, Aviles Hurtado is now tied with Nicolas Castillo of Pumas UNAM as the top goal-scorer in the Liga MX with eight goals. Another talking point was that Chula Vista native, Paul Arriola, had a really splendid game, providing an assist and really aiding the wounded Xolos’ defense. With the three points, the Prehistoric Dogs are now in second place with 25 points, just a point behind of Toluca in first. The Xolos will fight for that first place spot this Friday as they will take on Toluca at the Estadio Caliente in their week 15 matchup. Fuerza Tijuas!