Cruz Azul’s dysfunction was on full display in Toluca Sunday, allowing the Diablos Rojos to celebrate the 106th anniversary of their founding with a comfortable 3-1 victory.
“Los Choriceros” delighted their fans by overcoming an early deficit to win going away as Maxi Araujo contributed a brace and substitute Sebastián Saucedo put the cherry on top with a golazo in minute 87.
Toluca climbed from 14th to 5th in the Liga MX standings while Cruz Azul remains buried in 17th place.
The result will surely result in the dismissal of Cementeros coach Raúl Gutiérrez who was betrayed by an inept front office that failed to fill the gaping roster holes entering the season.
Quick start for Cruz Azul but Cementeros fail to build on it
Just 90 seconds into the match, Carlos Rodríguez had a great chance to put the visitors in the lead but Toluca goalie Tiago Volpi said “Not so fast, Charlie.”
Cruz Azul left back Ignacio Rivero sent a long cross to the back post and Rodríguez met it on the run but his low volley from 8 meters was smothered by Volpi.
Five minutes later, Rivero found Gustavo Carneiro behind the defense but his goal was disallowed for offside, a ruling that VAR took a full 4 minutes to confirm.
In minute 28, Carlos Rotondi put Cruz Azul ahead after Rodríguez sprung him free with a nifty lead pass and the Argentine winger calmly chipped over the onrushing Volpi.
The Cementeros had little time to enjoy their advantage, however, as poor marking after a corner kick allowed Araujo to bang a shot home from inside the box.
The equalizer seemed to unsettle Cruz Azul and “La Máquina” became sloppy and careless with the ball, ending the first half with only 36% possession.
Just before the teams headed to the locker room, defender Ramiro Funes Mori coughed up the ball just outside the box and Camilo Sanvezzo nearly put Toluca ahead, shooting just wide of the far post.
‘Choriceros’ turn the tide in second half
Another Cementeros giveaway in their own zone led to the go-ahead goal. Skipper Leo Fernández turned toward the box and filtered a pass to Jean Meneses who circled Funes Mori and beat him to the ball before squaring to Araujo who slotted home with ease.
The Diablos continued to torment the Cruz Azul back line, especially exploiting poor marking on the right side by Julio César Domínguez and Rodrigo Huescas.
It was that pair that lost track of Saucedo late in the game and the shifty winger skated past Huescas who failed to pursue and when Domínguez was slow to close down, Saucedo fired into the netting inside the far post.
Cruz Azul falls to 0-1-4 on the season just one spot out of the Liga MX cellar which is occupied by 0-0-5 Mazatlán FC.
The club is expected to sack Gutiérrez who was reportedly given an ultimatum heading into the match (“Win or else …”). Management has been in contact with Francisco Palencia and negotiations might heat up after Sunday’s loss.
There is no truth to the rumor that the Cementeros have been voted out of the Liga MX Big Four, but they ought to be. The once-proud franchise is being badly mishandled by a front office in complete disarray and things are unlikely to improve this season.