Ibáñez brace powers Pachuca past Atlético de San Luis

Pachuca started the new season with a 2-0 road win over Atlético de San Luis. (Photo by Cesar Gomez/Jam Media/Getty Images)
Pachuca started the new season with a 2-0 road win over Atlético de San Luis. (Photo by Cesar Gomez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /
Liga MX Tuneros Tuzos
Pachuca fullback Kevin Álvarez (left) was a constant threat on the right flank in the Liga MX season opener. (Photo by Cesar Gomez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

Tuzos topple Tuneros in Clausura 2022 curtain-raiser

Nico Ibáñez scored twice against his old team, leading Pachuca to a road win in its Liga MX season opener against Atlético de San Luis.

Ibáñez was a top candidate for Biggest Transfer Flop in Liga MX last season. He netted just two goals for the Tuzos last season after scoring 57 times in 108 games with the Tuneros. In his first game back in San Luis, the Argentine sniper matched his entire Guardianes 2021 output.

The outburst no doubt pleased new coach Guillermo Almada after the Tuzos claimed all 3 points in impressive fashion. Pachuca twice rattled the crossbar in the first half and forced four splendid saves from Tuneros keeper Marcelo Barovero, while also earning 11 corner kicks.

Ibáñez knocked home a cross from Víctor Guzmán to finish off a quick strike in minute 60 then converted a penalty kick just before the final whistle.

Liga MX vs Covid

Two Opening Night matches have already been affected by the Omicron outbreak that has begun to overwhelm Mexico. The Santos-Tigres contest set for Saturday was moved to Wednesday, Jan. 12, after 12 Tigres tested positive for coronavirus.

Sunday’s Toluca at Pumas clash was pushed back a day to Monday, Jan. 10, as the Diablos saw 11 players test positive. That decision forced league calendar-makers to reschedule the Pumas’ Week 2 game by a day. UNAM was scheduled to visit Querétaro on Jan. 13; now they will play on Jan. 14.

Several other Liga MX teams reported clusters, with Monterrey recording three positives, while América and Cruz Azul did the same.

Liga MX rules governing schedule adjustments due to the pandemic were revealed last week.

The protocol is as follows: If a team has between 7-10 players infected, its game will be postponed within the same week; if a team has more than 10 players infected, its game will be postponed at least a week.

In conjunction with the scheduling flexibility, Liga MX officials told teams to ratchet up their testing regimens and tighten procedures to avoid/prevent outbreaks. Stadium protocols regarding attendance will be left to local authorities.

Transfer tidbits

Camilo Sanvezzo’s move from Mazatlán FC to Toluca has been confirmed. The Brazilian striker scored 8 times for the Cañoneros last season and will now lead the new-look Diablos attack under the guidance of Ignacio Ambriz.

Offensive midfielder “Pol” Fernández will remain with Cruz Azul this season, and will play out his contract, but he will not sign an extension with “La Máquina.”

Are the Tigres closing in on Spartak Moscow defender Samuel Gigot? If he moves to Mexico, the 28-year-old Avignon native would be the third Frenchman on Miguel Herrera’s roster, joining André-Pierre Gignac and Florian Thauvin. Gigot is on an expiring contract but his price tag is a rather exorbitant $13 million dollars.

The negotiations are in part prompted by Carlos Salcedo’s insistence on moving away from the Tigres. There has been some interest from a couple Turkish clubs and Salcedo would seemingly accept a move to MLS. The enigmatic back-liner remains on the roster but he is one of the players who contracted Covid.

Next. What to expect from América, Pumas. dark

New Necaxa acquisition Ulises Cardona broke his right pinky toe and will be out of action for at least two months. The 23-year-old midfielder was brought over from Atlas after he spent last year on loan to Mazatlán FC.