The Tijuana Xolos played their eighth game in the Liga MX 2018 Apertura this Friday, Aug. 31, as the Aztec Canines hosted Necaxa at the Estadio Caliente. Both teams were among the worst teams this season and were in dire need of the three points from the match at the Mictlan.
The first half was intense despite the 0-0 scoreline as both teams combined for a total of 19 shots. Necaxa controlled possession with 59-percent in the first 45 minutes, but there was no clear winner from the matchup.
Both teams combined for a total of 18 shots in the second half, but possession was more even as Los Rayos controlled 51-percent of the time with the sphere. Diego Cocca started with the two-man strike force of Erick Torres and Juan Martin Lucero, but it proved to be ineffective to create many scoring opportunities.
The Argentine manager replaced Erick Torres with Jesus Angulo and Juan Martin Lucero was left as the lone striker. Miller Bolanos played just behind Lucero, Jesus Angulo played on the left wing and Fabian Castillo stuck to the right wing.
Fabian Castillo was then replaced by Eryc Castillo in the 68th minute and this also gave a bit of a boost to the offense. In the 85th minute, the deadlock was finally broken as Miller Bolanos scored the goal that would eventually be the game-winner. The Ecuadorian forward passed the ball to Juan Martin Lucero inside of the box, the Argentine striker then passed the ball back to Bolanos, who finished the opportunity inside of the box.
The Border City Dogs really controlled the game after that goal as Diego Cocca replaced Miller Bolanos with centre-back Hiram Munoz to keep the slim lead. The win was one that the Xolos really needed with their current six-game winless streak and coming off a very disappointing loss to Veracruz, one of the worst teams in the league.
The game was very entertaining with a total of 37 shots between both teams and four saves each from Gibran Lajud and Hugo Gonzalez. The draw would have been the fairest result, but the Xoloitzcuintles took advantage of their clearest opportunity of the clash to secure the three points.
Xolos’ Starting lineup: Gibran Lajud, Ignacio Rivero, Gustavo Canto, Juan Carlos Valenzuela, Luis Fuentes, Miller Bolanos (90’ Hiram Munoz), Diego Rodriguez, Diego Gonzalez, Fabian Castillo (68’ Eryc Castillo), Juan Martin Lucero, Erick Torres (52’ Jesus Angulo)
Omar Mendoza and Julian Velazquez were unavailable for the match due to injuries and were replaced by Gustavo Canto and Ignacio Rivero. Rivero had a very nice game in the right-back slot as he stayed back for most of the clash and provided great defensive coverage. Overall the lineup was solid, but it is clear that the two-striker setup with Torres and Lucero is not working out so far.
Man of The Match: Miller Bolanos
Miller Bolanos was very motivated after receiving a call to the Ecuador national team and provided a great performance. The South American forward scored the game-winning goal and was the best player going forward throughout the encounter as he netted his second goal of the season.