By DAN KARELL
Eight weeks into the 2014 Apertura season, defending champions Club Leon continue to sink lower and lower in the Liga MX standings.
Taking on Mexican power Santos Laguna, Leon were no match to Los Guerreros, as the hosts ran away to a 2-0 victory. Santos were all over Leon from the onset of the match, and Javier Orozco nearly scored from a bicycle kick, but it clanged off the left post.
Santos did find the breakthrough minutes later though when Mauro Cejas ghosted past the backline to flick a free header past Leon goalkeeper Christian Cedillo in the ninth minute.
Cedillo made save after save for his under fire Leon side but the evening continued to get worse for the visitors. Fernando Navarro was shown two yellow cards in three minutes, and was sent off in the 28th minute, reducing Leon to ten men. In the 78th minute, Jose Maria Cardenas was shown a second yellow card and received his marching orders, while coach Gustavo Matosas was also ejected.
In the third minute of second half stoppage time, youngster Jesus Escoboza put the finishing touches on the match, slotting home to put Santos up by two goals and close out the game. Santos moved into third place with 15 points with the win, while Leon drops to 16th place.
Here’s a closer look at the best of the rest from Liga MX Apertura Round 8:
TOLUCA SURPRISE CRUZ AZUL ON ROAD
Toluca notched another important mid-season victory on Saturday, on the road at Cruz Azul.
American-born defender Miguel Ponce scored the opener and Paulo da Silva hit the game-winner as Toluca beat Cruz Azul, 2-1, at the Estadio Azul. Toluca jumped up to fifth place with the three points, while Cruz Azul slip to 11th place.
The visitors took the lead in first half stoppage time when Ponce was set up by a great cut-back in the box by Edgar Benitez near the end line, giving Ponce a chance to fire a bullet strike home. Toluca added their second when Cruz Azul goalkeeper Jose de Jesus Corona made a huge error, mis-playing a soft header on the line and watching it fall across the line. Da Silva received the credit for the goal, though his header likely would have been saved 99 times out of 100.
Pablo Barrera brought the home fans to their feet with an absolute blast from 25 yards in the 72nd minute, but it was not enough for Cruz Azul to stay in the top eight.
RONALDINHO INTRODUCED AS QUERETARO DRAW WITH PUEBLA
Ronaldinho made a lap of honor as he was introduced to the Queretaro masses, but another veteran former international took away some of the Brazilian’s thunder.
After former Vancouver Whitecaps forward Camilo Sanvezzo put Queretaro up, 1-0, in the 89th minute, Puebla were awarded a penalty kick deep into stoppage time. Forty one-year-old Cuauhtémoc Blanco stepped up to the spot and blasted his penalty kick into the roof of the net in the seventh minute of stoppage time to give his side a much-needed point on the road.
Here’s a look at the full results from Apertura Round 8 in Liga MX:
Queretaro 1, Puebla 1
Veracruz 1, Atlas 1
Santos Laguna 2, Club Leon 0
Cruz Azul 1, Toluca 2
Monterrey vs. Chivas – Suspended due to rain
Pachuca 1, Club Tijuana 1
Universidad de Guadalajara 0, Club America 0
Chiapas 1, Morelia 1
Pumas UNAM 2, Tigres UANL 2