Cementeros find late equalizer to avoid upset loss to Gallos Blancos

Cruz Azul forward Augusto Lotti celebrates after scoring in minute 90 to earn the Cementeros a 2-2- draw against Querétaro. (Photo by Cesar Gomez/Jam Media/Getty Images)
Cruz Azul forward Augusto Lotti celebrates after scoring in minute 90 to earn the Cementeros a 2-2- draw against Querétaro. (Photo by Cesar Gomez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /
Cruz Azul Queretaro
Querétaro goalie Gil Alcalá exults after the Gallos Blancos took a late lead over Cruz Azul. Unfortunately, Alcalá was unable to prevent the equalizer and the game ended in a 2-2 draw. (Photo by Cesar Gomez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

Cruz Azul rescued a 2-2 draw at lowly Querétaro, revealing that reports of the Cementeros’s resurgence were premature.

“La Máquina Azul” entered Estadio Corregidora (packed with fans for the first time since the horrendous riot there just over a year ago) having won five of six and climbing out of the basement into 8th place.

But after taking a first-half lead, the Cementeros displayed all the characteristics that had them in the cellar in the first place – lack of positional discipline, poor help defense, selfish play with the ball, and a generous supply of errant passing – and Querétaro took advantage.

As Cruz Azul adopted an indifferent posture (much to the chagrin of Cementeros coach Ricardo Ferretti who gesticulated angrily throughout the second half), Rafael Fernández (57’) and Miguel Barbieri (85’) scored for the Gallos Blancos and Querétaro seemed headed for its second win of the season. But it was not to be.

Cruz Azul gets on the board first

In minute 42, Charlie Rodríguez picked up a loose ball and dribbled right-to-left before flicking a nifty pass into the path of Iván Morales as the burly Chilean raced into the box. Morales (who’s been invisible most of the half) barely beat Kevin Escamilla to the ball, getting just enough of it to loop it over Gallos Blancos goalie Gil Alcalá only to see it clang of the right post and ricochet across the goal mouth where Alonso Escoboza was first to react and the Cruz Azul left winger thumped it into the vacant net.

Earlier, Querétaro had seen a goal wiped out after a lengthy VAR review (not sure what took so long because video evidence was rather clear that Omar Mendoza was offside before sending a low cross that was pinball into the net by Ettson Ayón, but that’s par for the course in Liga MX where VAR officials rarely make quick, decisive rulings).

Cementeros get complacent

Cruz Azul came out in the second half determined to protect the 1-0 lead but apparently not ready to do the work necessary.

The “White Roosters” took advantage and started flowing forward. In minute 57, Omar Mendoza floated a cross into the box. Cruz Azul’s Juan Escobar headed it out of danger. Angel Sepúlveda attempted a bicycle kick but sent the ball squirting wide left where Fernández was unmarked. The 22-year-old lined up his shot and blasted a left-footer through a crowd and into the net to knot things up.

With Querétaro still pressing the attack, Cruz Azul conceded a corner kick in minute 85 and failed to put a man on Barbieri and the rugged defender rose up on the back side and powered a header inside the far post. Jesús Corona had no chance and the Cementeros were losing 2-1.

The prospect of losing to one of the worst teams in the league sparked something in the visitors and suddenly Cruz Azul was buzzing around Gil Alcalá’s box.

As the clock ticked toward 90 minutes, Ignacio Rivero found Cristian Tabó wide left, Tabó tucked it to Rodrigo Huescas inside the box and Huescas turned it to the middle where Augusto Lotti got first touch on the ball then slotted home underneath Alcalá to equalize.

Cruz Azul kept going and nearly found the winner. Alcalá blocked a long-range Rivero blast then came off his line to stuff a Huescas shot.

Ref Oscar Mejía blew his whistle shortly thereafter, so the teams split the points. The result leaves Cruz Azul in 8th with 17 points (5-2-5), while the Gallos Blancos sit in 17th with 10 points (1-7-4).

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Wednesday’s game was a make-up game, postponed from Matchday 4. Querétaro had requested the postponement so they could get a sell-out crowd after the one-year stadium ban ended. The Gallos Blancos hosted FC Juárez on March 10 in their first game with fans but ownership knew Cruz Azul would draw a bigger crowd.