24 February 2002 (www.TEAMtalk.com
Toluca’s 1-0 shutout of Santos, combined with Cruz Azul’s loss at Pachuca, sent Toluca top of the Mexican league after Round 8.
In the other Sunday matches, Chivas downed Celaya 2-0, while America and Pumas played to a disappointing scoreless draw in front of 100,000 at the Estadio Azteca.
Toluca 1, Santos 0
Toluca used an early Carlos Maria Morales goal to down Santos and go top of the Mexican league at the midway point of the season. The win gives Toluca 17 points on the year, good enough for first place in both Group 2 and the overall league standings. Santos, meanwhile, drop to 12th place overall in what is quickly becoming a disappointing season.
Morales headed home the lone goal of the match in the ninth minute. However, he had a golden chance to increase the lead in the 45th minute but squandered a penalty kick shot.
Next week, Toluca have a clear chance to separate themselves from the pack as they take on lowly Atlante.
Pachuca 2, Cruz Azul 1
Gabriel Caballero’s 74th minute strike gave Pachuca the 2-1 lead and the defense made it stand as they would go on to beat Cruz Azul at Estadio Hidalgo. The win for Pachuca moves them within one point of Pumas for the Group 4 lead. Cruz Azul, meanwhile, remain in first place atop Group 1 with 16 points but squandered the chance to become the overall Mexican league leaders at the halfway point of the season.
Pachuca took the lead in the 12th minute. Alberto Rodriguez received the final pass in a clever sequence between Walter Silvani and Sergio Santana and buried the ball past a helpless Oscar Perez. Cruz Azul equalized in the 44th minute courtesy of a Sebastian Abreu header. It was the Uruguayan’s league-leading 11th goal on the season.
Pachuca finally pulled away from Cruz Azul 15 minutes from time when Caballero knocked in the game-winning goal with his right foot.
Chivas 2, Atletico Celaya 0
Ramon Morales struck twice to lead Chivas to a crucial win for the club and especially for coach Oscar Ruggeri. The Argentine boss was to be shown his walking papers if his side could not manage a win against a dismal Celaya side.
Morales, however, made sure that Ruggeri would stick around for another day. In the 11th minute, Morales bent a free kick over the Celaya wall and past Omar Ortiz for his first goal of the match.
Just ten minutes from full time, Chivas were awarded a penalty kick after a sprawled-out Ortiz swatted at the feet of Miguel Sabah as the Chivas striker was set to increase the lead to two goals. Ortiz was sent off for his effort, and Morales converted the ensuing spot kick past midfielder Nicolas Ramirez, who was forced to replace Ortiz in net.
With the win, Chivas still remain in fourth place of Group 1 but sit only four points off group leaders Cruz Azul. Celaya sit in last place of the group with one win and five points to their credit on the season.
America 0, Pumas 0
In a match that had all the makings of a shootout, the 100,000 fans at the Estadio Azteca had to settle for a scoreless draw instead. The draw keeps America atop Group 3 with 13 points while Pumas remain top of Group 4 with 15 points.
Both clubs traded several quality chances on net but neither was able to put on the finishing touches. Luis Hernandez had several shots sail just wide of the frame for America. Ivan Zamorano came on in the second half to try to get the elusive goal for America but he was largely ineffective.
America goalkeeper Adolfo Rios and Pumas’ Jorge Campos were virtually untested throughout the match as both came away with clean sheets.