By DAN KARELL
With more than 23,000 in attendance and thousands more watching on their televisions, Club Tijuana and Atlas started off the season with a six-goal thriller.
New Xolos signing Dario Benedetto scored a hat-trick for his side but Atlas twice came back from two goals down thanks to Matias Vuoso and Edson Rivera, earning a 3-3 draw on Friday evening at the Estadio Caliente.
Vuoso and Benedetto delighted the crowd with sublime goals, Benedetto’s first a 20-yard lob over the goalkeeper, while Vuoso’s second goal of the match came off a bicycle kick at the top of the box, an early goal of the season candidate. The match also saw the debut of American Paul Arriola, who just minutes after entering in the second half set up Benedetto for his third goal.
After the first weekend of the Liga MX Apertura campaign, Monarcas Morelia sit on top of the table on goal differential after a 3-1 victory over Queretaro. Cruz Azul, Leon, and Pachuca each recorded wins in their first matches as well.
Here’s a closer look at a few of this weekend’s matches in Liga MX:
CRUZ AZUL STARTS SEASON ON RIGHT FOOT
In somewhat controversial fashion, Cruz Azul put the memory of last season’s Clausura Playoffs final collapse behind them with a 1-0 victory over Monterrey.
After a penalty kick in the 15th minute was saved by Monterrey goalkeeper Juan Ibarra, Cruz Azul was awarded a second one for a handball in the box off a free kick. This time, Rogelio Chavez put his chance away in the 53rd minute to give La Maquina the lead.
Mexico National Team midfielder Gerardo Torrado was given a red card in the 85th minute, but his Cruz Azul side held on for a big victory against Humberto Suazo and Monterrey.
MONARCAS TOP QUERETARO ON THE ROAD
In the opening game of the season last Friday afternoon, Morelia put up a performance that they’ll want to replicate the rest of the season.
On the road at “back from the dead” Queretaro, Monarcas scored three goals from three different players, taking advantage of a lethal counter attack. Edgar Andrade and Jefferson Montero scored the first two as Hector Mancilla bagged the team’s third.
Queretaro gave their fans something to go home with in the 88th minute with a Mario Osuna header finish off a flick from a corner kick.
Here’s a rundown of the weekend’s action in Liga MX:
Queretaro 1, Morelia 3
Tijuana 3, Atlas 3
Cruz Azul 1, Monterrey 0
Veracruz 2, Chiapas 2
Club Leon 1, Atlante 0
Puebla 1, Pumas UNAM 1
Toluca 0, Pachuca 1
Player of the Week: Dario Benedetto (Club Tijuana) – The Argentine forward in his first game for the club put on a show and eased fears that the loss of Duvier Riascos and injury of Herculez Gomez would hurt Tijuana for the time being. Benedetto took all three goals well, lobbing the goalkeeper on the first and rounding the ‘keeper on the second and third goals.