Clausura 2017

Pumas complete dramatic comeback as Nicolas Castillo scores two goals

In a thrilling afternoon in Estadio Olimpico Universitario, Pumas completed a dramatic comeback from a 0-3 deficit to earn a draw and salvage an important home point on Sunday against Tijuana.

Although missing Jesus Gallardo due to a red card suspension, Juan Francisco Palencia had three players back from injuries at his disposal with Alejandro Palacios, Pablo Barrera, and Matias Britos all fully healthy. Palencia reclaimed the starting spot, along with Berrera, but Britos began the afternoon on the bench even though fans are eager to see him paired with Nicolas Castillo.

After controlling the first twenty minutes, a defensive blunder let the visiting side get the early lead. As the ball was in the Pumas defensive half, Dario Veron made a lazy pass that forced Palacios to run forward to challenge for the loose ball. Aviles Hurtado won the dual, and fired a shot from nearly the halfway line that dropped into the back of the net. It was the first of many incredible goals on the afternoon.

Victor Malcorra and Guido Rodriguez added two rockets from outside the box just four minutes apart to give Xolos a commanding 3-0 lead. At that point, even though Pumas had controlled large portions of the match, the game looked to end lopsided and Pumas were on their way to two consecutive losses.

In the 66th minute, Pumas trailed 0-3. Nicolas Castillo and company had a plan, and it took a total of 10 minutes to accomplish, making for a great ending to the match.

After a nice corner kick from Alan Mendoza, Castillo found himself unmarked while Britos’ header attempted floated his way. Castillo, off balanced, fired the shot past Xolos goalkeeper Manuel Lajud for Pumas’ first goal in the 71st minute.

Just seven minutes later, the referee marked a penalty in favor of Pumas on what was a questionable foul in the box. Barrera stepped up and fired the shot to the left, while Lajud went the opposite direction. Pumas suddenly were within a goal.

In the 81st minute, Castillo completed the comeback with a fantastic effort at time was winding down. Mendoza once again provide the service, this time a pinpoint cross on the run and Castillo was able to tap the ball past Lajud to give the Pumas a 3-3 draw.

Originally the goal was marked an own-goal, but the league officially changed the ruling on Monday. Castillo scored two goals on the afternoon, giving him a total of four for the Clausura.

The draw kept Pumas in the playoff picture as they sit in seventh in the Liga MX table with 11 points from seven games.

Next up for the team is a midweek clash with Tigres in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League. It’s the first leg in a two leg series and will be held in Monterrey. Next weekend Pumas face Queretaro (9th, 9 points) on the road in Liga MX.

Highlights (courtesy of Pumas MX)