Necaxa slows high-flying Aguilas; Brandon gets a brace

León wins thriller with ‘buzzer-beater;’ Cruz Azul earns first ‘W’ 

Brandon Vazquez (#23) is making friends fast in Monterrey. Three games into his Liga MX career, Vazquez has three goals.
Brandon Vazquez (#23) is making friends fast in Monterrey. Three games into his Liga MX career, Vazquez has three goals. / Azael Rodriguez/GettyImages
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Sometimes a scoreless draw is entertaining

An early-season contest pitting the defending Liga MX champs against the worst team from the season before might not seem like riveting television.

On Saturday night in Aguascalientes, however, holders América had all it could handle from a Necaxa side that seems destined to escape the basement this season. This despite the fact that "Los Azulcremas" had its full complement of stars, including Álvaro Fidalgo, Brian Rodríguez and Sebastián Cáceres, all of whom were recenly linked to moves to Europe.

The Rayos scrapped and scrambled to earn a scoreless draw, good enough to remain undefeated through three games. Their 2-1-0 record has “Los electricistas in fourth place.

As for the reigning Liga MX champs, América finds itself in second place with a 3-1-0 record after yet another clean sheet for former Necaxa keeper Luis Malagón. And the Aguilas netminder had to be on his toes as the Rayos forced five saves.

Meanwhile, América struggled to create good looks and didn’t get its first shot on goal until second-half stoppage time and both teams had chances during those frantic final seven minutes

Julián Quiñones got a clear shot at net off a corner kick only to bang his header off the front post. Malagón then raced off his line to erase Alejandro Andrade’s breakaway. Then Ezequiel Unsain made a leaping save of a Brian Rodríguez rocket that was destined for glory.

Early on, ref Diego Montaño stoked the pro-América conspiracy theories that abound in Liga MX with what seemed to be a compensatory red card for Necaxa’s Diber Cambindo, converting the Rayos-Aguilas match to a 10-on-10 by minute 25.

América’s Richard Sánchez was ejected for smacking Alejandro Mayorga in the face (knocking the Necaxa fullback out of the game with an eye injury) in minute 15, but before the Rayos could take advantage, Cambindo was sent to the showers.

Summoned by VAR to reconsider the yellow card he’d shown, Montaño harshly decided the contact merited a red card.

But the embattled referee dispelled the conspiracy whispers in the second half, ignoring América pleas for a hand-ball penalty.

Welcome to Liga MX, Brandon

Brandon Vazquez is settling into life in Liga MX quite nicely, thank you. 

The 25-year-old striker contributed a brace in Monterrey’s 3-1 win over Atlético de San Luis Saturday night and he has scored in two straight games. Vazquez found the net twice in the first half and Sergio Canales made it 3-1 in minute 56 as Monterrey momentarily moved into first place (pending the Querétaro-Tigres result on Sunday) with a 3-1-0 record.

Vazquez, 25, joined the Rayados from MLS club FC Cincinnati earlier this month, tasked with filling the shoes left by Rogelio Funes Mori’s departure. Now, we’re not saying the San Diego native will make the Monterrey faithful forget the franchise’s all-time leading scorer just yet, but he’s making a statement of intent.

León, Cruz Azul victorious

Earlier Saturday, Federico Viñas scored his second in minute 90+8 to give León a 3-2 win over visiting Santos Laguna. Viñas’ game-winning header came just 2 minutes after the Guerreros snatched a late equalizer.

In Mexico City, Cruz Azul calmed a restless fan base with a 2-1 win over Mazatlán FC. La Máquina” made first-half goals from Gabriel Fernández and Ángel Sepúlveda – the team’s first goals of the season – stand up against the last place Cañoneros.

Cementeros fans booed the team in its home opener (a 1-0 loss to Pachuca) and were calling for new coach Martín Anselmi to be fired after only two games.

Friday night results

Puebla held on for a 1-1 home draw against Toluca, escaping with its first point of the Clausura 2024 when Brian García’s back-side header clanged off the near post then ricocheted off goalie Jesús Rodríguez before being cleared out of harm’s way.

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In Tijuana, the Xolos battled Guadalajara to a 1-1 tie and both clubs are still looking for their first victory.