Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuicles de Caliente, defeated their archrival Club Leon FC, 1-0 Saturday night in a match highly anticipated by soccer fans since the begining of the season.
Last November Xolos beat Leon in the semi-final after trailing in the opening game of the two-legged series and eventually moved on to win the final.
Xolos coach Antonio Mohamed said he was happy with the victory but that the score does not reflect what actually happen in the field.
“2-0 would have seemed fair, 3-0 a more of a realistic result,” said Mohamed. “This is the work of the defense, the numbers speak for themselves, in the last two tournaments and this past playoffs (we've) been the best defense.”
Not even a biting cold could keep a sold-out crowd from gathering at Estadio Caliente, to watch the champions in their home-opener.
From the opening minutes, actions seemed tense as both teams fought for possession of the ball. But all the game plans prepared during the week changed drastically for Leon coach Gustavo Matosas as Xolos striker Alfredo Moreno scored just 6 minutes into the contest.
The goal was due to a well produce play by midfielder Fernado Arce who in a single action pulled three defenders towards him, allowing Moreno open access against goalkeeper Christian Martinez, without any defenders blocking him, Moreno made the goal striking the ball with his left leg crossing it to the opposite side of the net.
In the second half Tijuana dominated again and came closer to scoring their second goal rather than Leon tying the game. Matosas made some substitutions and brought to the field two fresh players. Just a few plays after the changes, Leon would lose a key player as midfielder Carlos Alberto Peña was given a red card for an aggressive tackle. With this he became the second ejected member of Club Leon as assistant coach had been removed from the bench for arguing with the referee.
Minutes later, Leandro Augusto would enter the game after battling with injuries since last season's playoffs. Two minutes after making his season debut, Augusto was ejected adding more drama to the final minutes but Leon couldn’t produce any opportunities to score against Xolos goalkeeper Cirilo Saucedo.
With this result Tijuana is in the first places of the league and remains unbeaten with six points from their two victories.
Rafa Marquez, Leon’s new acquisition during winter transfers and ex Barcelona defender said that the Mexican league has become better and that things have changed.
“(The artificial field) not only affected me but the whole team, like I said we play soccer in certain style that we cannot practice in this field,” said Marquez. “Here the ball bounces different due to the field, it’s totally different.”
Tijuana’s foward Duvier Riascos, said that the team has been doing things well and that they will try to continue getting good results.
“We are motivated but we cannot get too confident,” he said. “Goals can come in any moment, today I tried to score, I did pretty interesting plays, but I was not allowed to score.”
Mohamed said that the team needs to continue working with the same mentality and that even though his team didn’t have a preseason like other clubs they continue in the same pace as they ended last season.
“Now it’s time for the game against Pumas, evey game is different” said Mohamed. “If we stop playing with such intensity and stop being agressive as we currently play, any team could beat us.”