Toluca gets 1st win of Nacho Ambriz era; Chivas fall

Toluca players mob Leo Fernández after his goal put the Diablos ahead 2-1. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)
Toluca players mob Leo Fernández after his goal put the Diablos ahead 2-1. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images) /
Toluca-Santos, Pachuca-Chivas
Ignacio Ambriz salutes the crowd before his first home game as coach of Toluca. the Diablos defeated Santos Laguba 3-1. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images) /

Toluca defeated visiting Santos in a battle of two former title-winning coaches who returned to Liga MX this season while Pachuca held off a feisty Chivas fightback as Matchday 2 weekend came to a close.

Ignacio Ambriz claimed his first win as Toluca coach after a disastrous debut last week. Pedro Caixinha suffered his first loss in his second term with Santos as his Guerreros coughed up a 1-0 lead, falling to the host Diablos Rojos 3-1.

Toluca is not expected to contend for the Liga MX title this year as it will take time for “Nacho” to install his free-wheeling system.

The past several seasons, the Diablos were a plodding team prone to defensive lapses that relied on flashes of brilliance from the mercurial Rubens Sambueza. But the aging veteran (Sambueza turned 38 on New Year’s Day) now wears an Atlético de San Luis jersey and Ambriz will need time to overhaul the roster.

Toluca thrills home fans at ‘La Bombonera’

Santos took the lead 22 minutes in when Toluca failed to mark Ayrton Preciado on a free kick (those pesky defensive lapses) and the winger volleyed home the cross at the back post. The host Diablos looked rattled for the first half hour but settled down and closed the first half with a nifty goal.

Alexis Canelo cut back a pass to Camilo Sanvezzo near the top of the box but a diving Carlos Acevedo palmed away the low shot. Unfortunately, he directed the ball right right to the feet of Daniel Alvarez who slotted home from 13 meters.

Toluca then started flowing forward though that often left room for Santos to counterattack and there was end-to-end action until the Diablos broke through 11 minutes after the break. Leo Fernández – back with Toluca after three seasons in exile at Tigres – knocked home a low, squared pass from Sanvezzo to finish off a quick strike.

Sub Diego Rigonato got onto the scoresheet just 34 seconds after checking in with a smashing volley off a poor Santos clearance effort.

Diablos keeper Luis García made 5 big saves to earn Man of the Match consideration, but coach Ambriz will be worried that his back line conceded so much space to Santos, forcing the 29-year-old netminder to step to the forefront.

Toluca climbed out of the basement with the win, moving up to 9th place though there are still two games pending. Santos sits three slots further back and Caixinha is still looking for his first win with the Guerreros since leaving the team back in 2015.

Tuzos hold off Chivas

Guadalajara might fight force Liga MX statkeepers to add another line to the score-sheet – temper tantrums.

Though ref Adonai Escobedo left a lot to be desired, he was equally bad for both teams, yet Chivas players preferred gesticulating wildly instead of staying with the play. Star winger Alexis Vega led the team in exaggerated outbursts of exasperation, ending the game with more hissy-fits than opportunities created. If Escobedo had followed league instructions, he could have shown Vega at least three yellow cards!

As it was, the Chivas beat themselves in the first half, turning the ball over several times as they tried to clear their zone and a giveaway in minute 20 led to Pachuca’s first goal. In minute 37, a poorly advised back pass hit a bit of loose turf and hopped over goalie Raúl Gudiño’s foot and rolled into the Guadalajara net for a howler of an own-goal.

“El Rebaño Sagrado” finally found a rhythm in the second half and made a game of it, especially after Ángel Zaldívar converted a penalty in minute 53. The Chivas enjoyed much the better of possession but had trouble finding the target. Marcelo Michel’s men ended up with just two shots on target (including the penalty shot) despite having the ball for 59% of the game.

Next. Modest Puebla blanks mighty Tigres. dark

The Tuzos climbed into second place, tied on points (6) with UNAM (+8 goal differential) and Cruz Azul (+3) while Guadalajara dropped from second to sixth with a 1-1-0 record.