Guadalajara goal-fest outshines win by revamped Cruz Azul

Alexis Vega shakes his fist after scoring on a free kick to give Guadalajara a 3-0 first-half lead over Mazatlán FC on Sunday night. (Photo by Refugio Ruiz/Getty Images)
Alexis Vega shakes his fist after scoring on a free kick to give Guadalajara a 3-0 first-half lead over Mazatlán FC on Sunday night. (Photo by Refugio Ruiz/Getty Images) /
Liga MX Chivas, Azul
Carlos Rodriguez celebrates after scoring on his Cruz Azul debut, helping the Cementeros win their Liga MX season opener against Tijuana. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images) /

Chivas fans spent the holiday break bemoaning their club’s lack of activity during the winter transfer window, but come Monday morning the “Goats” are sitting atop the Liga MX table.

Guadalajara kicked off the Clausura 2022 season with a thorough 3-0 beat-down of visiting FC Mazatlán to claim first place through there are three Matchday 1 games pending.

The Chivas rode a late first-half flurry of goals to victory on Sunday night (the first was a controversial penalty, the second a brilliant flicked chip shot and the third a glorious free kick from just outside the box), while dominating possession to the tune of 69%. Guadalajara goalie Raúl Gudiño was called on to make just one save.

Ironically, the one acquisition the Chivas made – Roberto Alvaradao – was unavailable due to Liga MX Covid protocols.

Cementeros claim hard-fought win

Cruz Azul held off a tough challenge from last season’s last-place team thanks to a solid performance from its new-look midfield. Erik Lira and Charlie Rodríguez looked right at home in Estadio Azteca in their first game with “La Máquina,” Rodríguez heading in a goal in minute 43 to open the scoring.

Lira was omnipresent in the middle of the pitch, harassing any Tijuana player daring to approach the Cruz Azul area and his work in front of the back line helped limit the Xolos to 3 shots on goal.

With eight players (including all but one forward) missing due to fitness and Covid issues, the Cementeros lacked cohesiveness in attack, but both their shots on goal found their way into the back of the net. Charlie scored in minute 43, while Rafa Baca added a beauty in minute 66.

Captain Jesús Corona made a splendid save in minute 83 to preserve the shutout but Tijuana striker Mauro Manotas squandered to wide-open chances to get the Xolos on the board.

The 2-0 win has Cruz Azul in second place.

Elsewhere around Liga MX

Despite boasting the league’s biggest payroll, Monterrey was unable to put away pesky minnows Querétaro, settling for a scoreless draw at home. The Rayados outshot the Gallos Blancos 25-8 but could not get one past Washington Aguerre who made 8 saves, including a fingertip save off a Vincent Janssen close-range header in minute 56.

After its insipid 1-1 draw at Puebla in its Liga MX season opener, América is in talks with Colo Colo for the services of winger Pablo Solari (no relation to Aguilas coach Santiago Solari though both are Argentine). Solari, only 20 years old, just signed a contract extension with the Chilean powerhouse club so his 2.5 million-dollar asking price probably just went up. Coach Solari is desperate for a right winger who can widen the field for América’s strikers and negotiations for his first target – 22-year-old Brian Ocampo (with Uruguay’s Nacional) – fell apart late last week.

Next. Ibáñez leads Pachuca to victory. dark

Guadalajara supporters were stunned last week when Chivas owner Amaury Vergara sent word through GM Ricardo Peláez that there would be no further roster additions, specifically dismissing rumors that the club was negotiating for the return of fan favorite Eduardo “Chofis” López, saying there was no room for him in Chivas. But Vergara informed coach Marcelo Michel Leaño that the club’s title objectives remain unchanged. That prompted quite a bit of #FueraVergara chatter within Chivas Nation, but that tune has probable changed a bit thanks to Sunday’s performance at the Estadio Akron.