Last-place Cruz Azul snatched a tie from the jaws of victory, but in so doing the Cementeros earned their first point of the season.
“La Máquina Azul” battled Santos Laguna to a 2-2 draw at Estadio Azteca in a hectic match that had both teams scrambling and scrapping all over the pitch.
In minute 90+4, Christian Tabó was sent free wide right and his perfect cross found Rodolfo Rotondi all alone in front of Gibrán Lajud, but Rotondi’s first-timer was swatted aside by a sprawling Lajud who made 6 huge saves on the night.
Just a few minutes earlier, Santos sub Aldo López made two saves off the same corner kick sequence, first clearing Ignacio Rivero’s header off the line then blocking Juan Escobar’s follow shot with an acrobatic kick save.
Cementeros still have no place to go but up
Cruz Azul found itself behind just 2 minutes in and it appeared that the Joaquín Moreno Era would be no different than the abruptly terminated “Tuca” Ferretti Era.
But then winger Uriel Antuna – in his Apertura 2023 debut – stepped forward, assisting on Diber Cambindo’s first goal in a Cementeros uniform, then putting his team ahead from the penalty spot just before the break.
The mercurial Team Mexico forward reverted to form in the second half, however. All alone at the top of the box, Antuna forced an ill-advised pass instead of taking the shot (turnover), fired high with his left foot from 12 meters and spent his usual amount of time rolling on the ground seeking foul calls.
The frantic pace of the game was abetted by sloppy passing, poor spacing and a healthy dose of miscommunication on the part of both teams.
League-leading scorer Harold Preciado equalized in minute 64, firing in his 4th of the season from the penalty spot.
Cementeros find a semblance of offense
“La Máquina” came into the contest with just 1 goal in three games, so the result was a veritable scoring explosion.
In the three consecutive losses that opened the campaign, the offense was woeful, producing just 8 shots on target. On Sunday, the Cementeros got 9 shots on frame but the much-maligned Lajud was up to the task.
At the other end of the pitch, goalie Andrés Gudiño made it clear that he intends to claim the #1 jersey, figuratively speaking. The 26-year-old netminder is battling Sebastián Jurado to be the successor to the legendary Jesús Corona who was jettisoned before the season.
Despite the glimpses of progress, the Cementeros still seemed out of sorts, not surprising considering the change in coaches.
Too often, passes were sent to vacated spaces, teammates clustered together making things easy for Santos defenders and defensive coverages were fouled up.
Although coach Moreno has been tagged as interim coach (his fourth stint as interim manager for Cruz Azul) but management insists he will be in charge for the remainder of the Apertura 2023. So “El Ingeniero” will have time to tinker with line-ups and teach the tactical adjustments he deems necessary.
Nonetheless, Cruz Azul fans showed their displeasure with their team by staying away from “El Colosio de Santa Úrsula.” That certainly made it easier for security to clear out the stadium ahead of the Atlas-América match that took place a couple hours later. That game was moved from Guadalajara after a concert and heavy rains from Hurrican Hilary made Estadio Jalisco unplayable.