The 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League group stage is in the books, and Pumas did exactly as they were expected to – win their group. Coming into Thursday night’s game in Mexico City, Pumas needed a win or a draw to advance to the quarterfinals of the tournament. They not only got what they needed, but did it in in spectacular fashion, lighting up the scoreboard for eight goals, while allowing one.
You heard that right. Pumas defeated W Connection 8-1 in front of their home fans.
Eduardo Herrera, Jesus Gallardo, and Fidel Martinez scored two goals apiece, while Saul Berjon and Alfonso Nieto contributed the others in the lopsided victory.
The mismatch was evident from the opening minutes as Berjon opened the scoring in the 17th minute with a header on a perfectly placed pass from Pablo Barrera. In the 30th minute, Gallardo sent in a cross from the right side, and Herrera found himself loosely marked and able to head the ball in for a 2-0 lead. Barrera was involved again on the next goal, this time with a slick pass to Herrera who fired a close range shot past the keeper. Gallardo added the next goal in the 55th minute, and W Connection pulled one back five minutes later on a long range shot that Alfredo Saldivar had no chance of saving. In the 65th minute, Herrera had a penalty shot blocked by the W Connection keeper. Gallardo (71′), Nieto (79′), and Martinez (84′, 89′) rounded out the night.
Pumas peppered the W Connection keeper with 39 total shots, 17 of which were on goal.
The win placed Pumas in fourth position going into the quarterfinals. Their next opponent will be Tigres, their toughest challenge yet. The fixtures are not confirmed yet, but the first leg will be played in Monterrey between February 21-23, 2017 and the return leg in Mexico City between February 28-March 2.
The winner of the Pumas-Tigres match-up will face the winner of the New York Red Bulls-Vancouver Whitecaps pairing.