Pereira's stoppage-time goal gives visiting Toluca draw in season opener

Querétaro fritters away 2-goal advantage; Atlético de San Luis claims road victory
Maxi Araujo (No. 11) celebrates with Federico Pereira and Marcel Ruiz after Pereira (facing camera) netted the tying goal for Toluca in their season opener at Querétaro.
Maxi Araujo (No. 11) celebrates with Federico Pereira and Marcel Ruiz after Pereira (facing camera) netted the tying goal for Toluca in their season opener at Querétaro. / Jam Media/GettyImages

The Liga MX kicked off the Clausura 2024 season with a thriller as Toluca erased a 2-0 second-half deficit and escaped Estadio Corregidora with a 2-2 draw, scoring the equalizer just seconds before the final whistle.

After a stretch-run collapse last season, Toluca looked like a candidate to miss out on the playoffs again during the first 45 minutes at Querétaro. “Los Choriceros” looked indecisive, listless and indifferent, while failing to generate a shot on goal.

The Diablos Rojos were outplayed by the rugged though tactically deficient Gallos Blancos who took an early lead and could have two other goals before the break.

Querétaro defender Emanuel Guiarte put his team ahead in minute 7, banging home a goal off a corner kick. Ettson Ayón got his head on the initial delivery, flicking it across to the far side where Gularte, unmarked, calmly one-timed the ball inside his near post. 

Subs turn the tide for Toluca

Diablos Rojos coach Renato Paiva – following in the footsteps of Ignacio Ambriz for a second time (Paiva’s first Liga MX job was at León where he also succeeded Ambriz) – might have to answer some questions about his line-up selection. 

Winger Maxi Araujo and forward Edgar López started the game on the bench as did playmaking midfielder Jesús Angulo, while long-in-the-tooth veterans Claudio Baeza and Jean Meneses contributed little while on the pitch.

Araujo came in to start the second half and delivered Toluca’s first shot on goal, a dribbler straight at Guillermo Alison in minute 50.

Just 5 minutes later, Pablo Ortiz ran onto a clever Pablo Barrera pass and fired a rocket into the upper right corner from 25 meters and Querétaro was up 2-0. It was the 21-year-old Ortiz’s first Liga MX goal.

Paiva sent in a trio of reinforcements at the hour mark, removing Baeza, Meneses and an ineffective Pedro Raúl. Angulo tested Allison right off the bat and shortly thereafter López cut the lead in half.

A couple minutes later, the Gallos had a goal ruled out for offside and in minute 86 the White Roosters squandered a chance to go up 3-1 and secure the victory. 

As Toluca pressed forward looking for the equalizer, Raúl Sandoval and Jordan Sierra escaped on a 2-on-1 break, but Sandoval scuffed his cross and the hustling Valber Huerta slid it out of harm’s way for a corner kick.

That blunder cost Querétaro 2 points when Federico Pereira headed home a lovely cross from Araujo deep into stoppage time. 

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Mazatlán FC 0, Atlético de San Luis 1

Sub Léo Bonatini scored a golazo in minute 73 to give visiting Atlético de San Luis a 1-0 win at Mazatlán FC while goalie Andrés Sánchez was spectacular, coming up with 10 saves to allow the Tuneros to start off the Clausura 2024 with 3 road points.