22 May, 2011

Pumas are 2011 Clausura Champions

Anything else would have been a shock. UNAM Pumas win the 2011 Torneo Clausura title at home with a 2-1 win over Morelia to win the final series 3-2 aggregate. However, it wasn't easy, and the final goal was an instant classic to give the home fans a great victory to enjoy. The first half was a brutal affair, and the most influential man on the field was referee Marco Antonio Rodriguez, who did more in the first half to win the game for Pumas than any player.
In the 14th minute, Paraguayan sensation Dante Lopez beat the Morelia offsides trap and went one on one with Monarcas goalkeeper Federico Vilar of Argentina. Rodriguez called a penalty kick when it appeared that Vilar took Lopez down with illegal contact. However, replays showed that Dante Lopez, in addition to being a great soccer player, is a pretty good actor and there was no contact. Nevertheless, Francisco "Paco" Palencia converted the ill begotten penalty and Pumas took a one-goal lead in the match and aggregate.

Rodriguez would again make an error in UNAM Pumas favor. Mexico National Team star Miguel Sabah of Morelia was pulled down in the penalty area by a Pumas defender and then was mistakenly given a yellow card for diving. The referee Rodriguez must have felt pretty bad about awarding UNAM Pumas a bad penalty and denying Morelia a real one, because soon afterwards he awarded a phony penalty to Morelia as if to make up for the wrong call on Sabah's "dive" that was really a legitimate penalty. In the 24th minute, Sabah and Pumas goalkeeper Antonio Palacios raced for a loose ball. Palacios won it cleanly and cleared it out, then afterwards made contact with Sabah, and the referee pointed to the spot and gave Palacios a yellow card, although most observers felt there was no foul on the play. Jaime Lozano converted the tying penalty kick and the score was tied, 1-1 in the match, 2-2 aggregate.

Although the referee ruined the first half, by the time the second half kicked off we were right back where we started, tied even. And there was no further controversy from Marco Antonio Rodriguez, so the poor referee can not be held responsible for the final result. Instead, the player responsible was Man of the Match Javier Cortes, playing in his home town of Mexico City. In the 57th minute, Colombian Joao Rojas of Morelia nearly put Las Monarcas on top but Javier Cortes cleared the shot off the line to keep the score even. Then, in the 77th minute, Cortes received the ball on the right sideline with the entire Monarcas defense between him and the goal. Cortes dribbled past one defender, nutmegged a second defender, then eluded the slide tackle of a third to find space near the corner of the six yard box. From a bad angle, he somehow threaded the proverbial needle just out of reach of a lunging Joel Huiqui to remove any doubts or controversy from UNAM Pumas' title. The goal is all over the internet already. They are calling it the best goal of the entire season. It is a beauty. Enjoy!

Video: jbjarano


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