Liga MX champs finally get a ‘W;’ rampant Chivas held

Julian Quiñones (center) celebrates after scoring against Cruz Azul, helping the Liga MX champs earn their first win of the season. (Photo by ULISES RUIZ/AFP via Getty Images)
Julian Quiñones (center) celebrates after scoring against Cruz Azul, helping the Liga MX champs earn their first win of the season. (Photo by ULISES RUIZ/AFP via Getty Images) /
Liga MX M3 Guadalajara teams
Alexis Vega was a headache for the Santos defense all game long. Here, Guerreros defender Alan Cervantes grabs Vega before he can break away in Saturday’s Liga MX match in Estadio Corona. (Photo by Manuel Guadarrama/Getty Images) /

Liga MX refs will be in the spotlight

Holders Atlas got their first win of the season while crosstown rivals Chivas scored at Santos Laguna for the first time in five years but still had to settle for a draw as Matchday 3 in Liga MX continued.

The Zorros held off 10-man Cruz Azul 3-2, avenging a loss in the preseason Super Copa, to move to 1-1-1 on the season. The Cementeros suffered a second consecutive setback and are 1-0-2 after playing the top three seeds from last season to open their campaign.

Liga MX officials won’t get any slack from critics after a very questionable red-card – prompted by a VAR review – left “La Máquina” a man down going into halftime. Cruz Azul’s Carlos Rotondi was ejected for clipping Atlas defender Anderson Santamaría with his studs, but the stamp came as the result of a follow-through on a shot attempt.

Atlas took advantage of the extra space and controlled the second half. They took the lead via a sustained possession, moving from left-to-right and back to the left side where Edison Flores got free enough to chip a soft cross right to the unmarked Jeremy Márquez who headed home from point-blank range.

A dozen minutes later, Julián Quiñones spun “Cata” Domínguez around and blasted home from the left side of the box and it was 3-1 Atlas in minute 82, sending the Estadio Jalisco crowd into a frenzy. The game was the Zorros’ first at home since winning a second straight Liga MX title on May 29.

Christian Tabó narrowed the gap a few minutes later, but a desperate Cruz Azul could not find the equalizer before the final whistle.

Chivas can’t catch a break

Up in Torreón, Guadalajara looked sharp and determined, running rings around the Santos defense in the first half. Alexis Vega rang the post with a free kick and Guerreros goalie Carlos Acevedo saved three other shots.

Stories of the Chivas demise appeared premature, as Ricardo Cadena’s men had 61% possession during the first 45 minutes. And just 90 seconds after the restart, Guadalajara was in the lead.

“Tepa” González gathered up a headed clearance and dropped it off to Roberto Alvarado near midfield. “Piojo” wasted no time, second a perfectly weighted pass behind the defense where Vega ran under it, nodded it deeper into the box then delivered a sweet cross to “Tepa” who was following up the play. The 23-year-old striker banged it into the net for his first Liga MX goal, and the first Chivas scoring play in Estadio Corona since Angel Zaldívar knocked home a penalty kick there in August 2017.

Substitute Eduardo Aguirre saved the day for the “Laguneros,” making a nifty move inside the box to elude Luis Olivas before blasting past Miguel Jiménez from a sharp angle.

The 1-1 result leaves Santos in 7th place – just behind Atlas – with a 1-1-1 record while the Chivas are left in 15th with a 0-2-1 record.

Next. 10-man León salvages a road draw ... again. dark

Three games remain on the Liga MX weekend calendar: Necaxa at UNAM, Monterrey at Atlético de San Luis, and Tijuana at Tigres.