PUEBLA, Mexico -- America handed a determined Puebla a home defeat, courtesy of a Miguel Layun goal in the second minute. Puebla suffered for the whole duration of the match, as a win would have spared La Franja from relegation. Instead, Puebla head coach Ruben Omar Romano's men had to wait for the outcome of the match between Atlante and Santos in Torreon to find out their fate, which ultimately went in their favor.
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Unluckily, they were reduced to ten men in the 61st minute following Uriel Alvarez's sending off for a reckless sliding tackle on Paul Aguilar.
The Hero: Layun. As usual. Thanks to his determination and pride, America has avoided defeat more than once. He is always dangerous when presented with a goal scoring opportunity. America -- who did nothing else of note -- claimed the three points thanks to his early goal.
The Villain: Puebla's back line. Layun was afforded too much time and space down the right flank to score the opening goal. The shot eluded diving goalkeeper Jorge Villalpando, who misjudged the ball.
Puebla had no time to show the fans they were ready to put up a fight against one of the heavyweights of Mexican soccer. An early strike by Layun after only two minutes forced Romano to change his approach. With his team trailing by a goal, he adjusted the game plan accordingly. The initial objective was to attack America, but having to play at a disadvantage, Puebla couldn't afford any defensive mistakes.
Afterwards, they rarely threatened and were looking solely not to concede, as the offensive line proved ineffective. Sidelined through a muscle injury, Michael Orozco's absence was a setback for the back line. Unable to close the gap in the first half, the home team came out after the break with renewed determination but, despite gaining more possession, they failed to score within the first 10 minutes. It was a tough test, and the scorching sun did not help.
The team lacked the final touch in the attacking third and was not able to find the space in front of Moises Munoz's net. Las Aguilas had no intention of conceding a goal and attacked on the break at the first opportunity. After an hour of play, Puebla's situation further deteriorated as Alvarez was sent off for a reckless sliding tackle on Aguilar. Down a goal and down a man, it was time to rethink the match once again. But, Puebla refused to give up.
They fought hard, did their utmost, but their goal-scoring opportunities were few and they could not avoid defeat. America entered the field with luck on their side, unlike previous occasions when luck had failed them. Layun scored an early individual goal just minutes into the fray sending the visiting fans into a frenzy. Las Aguilas, without needing time to assert their superiority, were already 1-0 ahead. Once settled and with everything in their favor, America continued to attack and looked to double their advantage, without truly worrying the opponent. They attacked, but without real danger, as they couldn't find the final touch.
Perhaps, the suspended Rubens Sambueza's creativity was missed. Yet the truth is that las Aguilas were wary and went into the break with a one goal advantage. America made no substitutions for the second half, although fresh legs were needed, as Puebla attacked in rather haphazard fashion, aiding the defensive work of the back line. Las Aguilas mustered very few shots, but maintained the lead under pressure for most of the game. Their changes were targeted to that end.
The result: America reached 24 points and are still in contention for the playoffs. Puebla have 12 points and their agony remains.