Scandal? What scandal? Guadalajara played like the team that marched to the Liga MX finals last season, momentarily easing the crisis that had Chivas Nation in panic mode.
Further bolstering the sense of redemption in Guadalajara, coach Veljko Paunovic apparently turned down the offer from La Liga side Almería, declaring that he “wants to remain with Chivas for many years.”
The Chivas brushed off the taint of the recent scandals plaguing the popular franchise and routed crosstown rivals Atlas to climb into fifth place with 18 points.
Ricardo Marín scored twice while Roberto Alvarado, Víctor Guzmán and Antonio Briseño played starring roles as the Chivas cruised to a 4-1 win in the “Clásico Tapatío.”
Chivas incite love fest at Estadio Akron
Fernando Beltrán got Guadalajara off to a dream start, curling a lovely right-footer around an Atlas defender and inside the near post just 9 minutes into the match. The home crowd erupted in glee and maintained a steady roar the remainder of the night even after Aldo Rocha equalized in minute 44 with a golazo.
The second half was all Chivas as “El Rebaño Sagrado” employed a scrambling press that severely limited the Zorros’ looks at goal.
Guzmán reappeared in the starting line-up for the first time since August – banished for an unspecified indiscretion that may or may not have included punching Paunovic in the face – and was entrusted with the captain’s arm band.
“El Pocho” delivered key passes throughout the game including a magnificent long cross that Marín bounced into the net in minute 63. Marín would deliver the clincher in minute 84, getting behind the Atlas defense and chasing down a long lead pass from Roberto Alvarado before slotting home past a helpless Camilo Vargas.
Alvarado added a penalty kick 3 minutes into stoppage time for the final score.
For his part, “El Pollo” Briseño spent most of the game inside the shirt of Atlas striker Moisés Caicedo while also finding time to boss his team’s area, heading away innumerable crosses.
For now, Chivas Nation can breathe more easily as the lads avoided a collapse. With a 10-day FIFA break around the corner, Guadalajara can lay low and prepare for life without the club’s highest-paid player, Alexis Vega.
Vega – suspended along with Cristián Calderón and Raúl Martínez for violating team rules – has reportedly been told by Chivas owner Amaury Vega that he will never pay with Guadalajara again.
Champs fall further off the pace; Rayados collect 3 points
Tigres settled for a second consecutive tie, allowing league-leading América to extend its lead atop the table.
The champs were held to a 1-1 draw by a callow Pachuca side that nearly walked away with a victory as Tigres seemed to run out of gas down the stretch.
“Los felinos” now trail América by 5 points and could find themselves in third place if Atlético de San Luis defeats Tijuana on Sunday.
In Monterrey, the Rayados made quick work of FC Juárez, scoring twice in the first half hour and coasting to a 3-1 win over the visiting Bravos.
With the victory, Monterrey rises into sixth place and has two games in hand while FC Juárez tumbled into eighth place. The Bravos have a game in hand, too.