Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Mexico: Tigres end long wait for national title (video)

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on December 12, 2011

Tigres are the new champions of Mexico following their 4-1 aggregate victory over Santos Laguna in the Torneo Apertura (Opening Championship) final.

Tigres had finished in third place in the regular season table with a record of seven wins, seven draws and three defeats from seventeen games, before going on to defeat Pachuca CF and Queretaro FC in the play-offs on their way to the final.

The first leg of the final, which was played last Thursday, saw Tigres claim a narrow 1-0 win over hosts Santos Laguna with an early goal from Damián Álvarez separating the two sides. Yesterday saw Tigres fall behind in the return fixture with Oribe Peralta levelling the scores on aggregate. The second half, however, saw Tigres restore the lead through Hector Mancilla and the game would be settled as a contest with Danilinho and Alan Pulido finishing off matters by making the score 3-1 on the night.

The championship win was Tigres’ first domestic title since 1982, a long wait of 29 years, and also secured a place in the 2012 Copa Libertadores.


Mexico: Can Monterrey win third straight Apertura?

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on July 22, 2011

Monterrey CFThe Mexican football season kicks off this weekend with eighteen teams hoping to claim the Apertura (Opening) Championship. UNAM Pumas are the most recent Mexican champions following their 2010-11 Clausura (Closing) Championship success but Monterrey will hope to repeat their 2010-11 Apertura title triumph.

The new season will see a slightly different format in the first stage of each championship. Instead of the eighteen teams being split into three different groups there will now be just one championship table which will clearly decipher who the best eight teams of the regular season are and will, thus, decide the post-season play-off fixtures which ultimately decide each championship. Monterrey are looking for a third straight Apertura championship having won the 2009 & 2010 editions but will also have to pay attention to their CONCACAF Champions League campaign which they enter this season as title holders following their 3-2 aggregate win over American side Real Salt Lake in last season’s final.

UNAM Pumas have been largely inactive in the transfer window and have added no further players to their squad thus far. The champions, who won a 7th domestic crown last season, will also be participating in the CONCACAF Champions League along with the two best non-champion teams of the 2010-11 campaign Monarcas Morelia and Santos Laguna. Club America, traditionally the biggest club in Mexico, haven’t won a domestic title for six years but after signing last season’s Apertura top scorer Christian Benitez from Santos Laguna hopes are high that they can challenge for a title this time around.

The situation regarding relegation in Mexico is similar to that in Argentina in which each team’s points average over three seasons (six championships) will determine who goes down into the second tier Liga de Ascenso next season. Tijuana, from the north west of the country on the Mexico-US border, will naturally start with zero points in the averages table having been promoted last season at the expense of Necaxa. They will be hoping to have a good season so that they can climb above the likes of Estudiantes Tecos (1.0441 average), Queretaro (1.0882), Jaguares (1.1324) and Atlas (1.1471) who lie immediately above them at the commencement of the new campaign.

Estudiantes Tecos will begin the new season on Friday, 22 July with a home match against Toluca. Four matches take place on Saturday, the biggest of them being Pachuca v Santos Laguna, whilst Sunday will also see four games played with defending champions UNAM Pumas at home to San Luis while last season’s Apertura champions Monterrey face a potentially tricky away tie at Jaguares.

FIFA: Hosts Mexico claim Under-17 trophy in style (+video)

Posted in International Football by peterbein on July 11, 2011

FIFA World U-17 Championship logoThe FIFA World Under-17 Championship has been won by hosts Mexico in what was a thrilling climax to a hugely successful tournament.

Mexico got to the final having topped Group A ahead of Congo, North Korea and European champions the Netherlands before getting past Panama, France and Germany in the knockout rounds. Uruguay came second in Group D behind England but managed to defeat Congo, Uzbekistan and neighbours Brazil en route to the final which was played in the Estadio Azteca on Sunday.

The mecca of Mexican football was crammed with 100,000 spectators which proved just how important it is for the local football fans to get to see the next generation of players to grace the shirt of El Tri. Antonio Briseño sent the home fans wild in the 31st  minute when turning the home from close range to give the hosts the lead. The game wasn’t settled until the second minute of stoppage time when Giovani Casillas held his nerve to slot the ball past Uruguayan keeper Jonathan Cubero to secure the game and the tournament for the Mexicans.

Not only did Mexico emerge triumphant from this competition but they shone in the individual awards too. Julio Gómez won the Golden Ball after winning the player of the tournament award whilst compatriots Jonathan Espericueta and Carlos Fierro won the Silver Ball and Bronze Ball respectively. Amongst the other significant awards in the tournament the Ivory Coast’s Souleymane Coulibany won the Golden Boot award after top scoring in this year’s competition with nine goals, the aforementioned Cubero won the Golden Glove award as the tournament’s best goalkeeper whilst the Japanese team went away with the Fair Play trophy.

Mexico are world champions at this level for the second time in their history following their previous triumph in the 2005 tournament held in Peru but they will still have to qualify for the next tournament which will be held in the United Arab Emirates in two years’ time. Only the host nation qualifies automatically for that tournament.

Mexico: Pumas clinch tense Clausura title (+video)

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on May 23, 2011

UNAM Pumas have won Mexico’s Torneo Clausura thanks to a 3-2 aggregate victory in the final against Monarcas Morelia.

Both teams had shared the goals in a 1-1 draw in Friday’s first leg with Juan Francisco Palencia (UNAM) and Joao Rojas (Morelia) both hitting the target. So the scene was set for a thrilling finish in Sunday’s return fixture, played at the Pumas’ home ground of Estadio Olímpico Universitario, and it was the home side who opened the scoring on 14 minutes with Palencia converting an early spot kick. Just eleven minutes later parity was restored via the same method as Morelia won a penalty of their own which was scored by Jaime Lozano. The goal which ultimately decided the game and the championship came deep in the second half; Javier Cortés scoring an amazing goal which helped his team to their seventh national championship title.


Mexico: Favourites Tigres crash out; Clausura Review

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on May 9, 2011
Héctor Reynoso

Héctor Reynoso helped Chivas defeat Tigres

The quarter-final stages in Mexico’s Torneo Clausura have been completed this weekend and for UNAM Pumas, Guadalajara, Morelia and Cruz Azul the dream is still alive.

The biggest shock came courtesy of Guadalajara who disposed of tournament favourites and number one seed Tigres UANL with a 4-2 aggregate victory. Having won the first leg at home 3-1, Guadalajara made a good job of holding on to their two goal aggregate lead in the second leg until the 64th minute when Héctor Mancilla scored to give Tigres hope. Guadalajara restored the two goal advantage just fifteen minutes later through Héctor Reynoso and effectively killed the game as a contest. The Chivas will face off against UNAM in the semi-finals after the Pumas, now the new tournament favourites following Tigres’ elimination, knocked out 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League winners Monterrey CF from the competition. Although the tie finished 3-3 on aggregate UNAM progress to the final four due to their higher regular season ranking.

Monarcas Morelia, who have only ever been Mexican champions once in their history, remain on course to win a first title since 2000 having overcome the challenge of Club América. Following an impressive 2-1 away win in the first leg, Morelia sealed the deal in the second leg with goals from Joao Rojas (2) and Márquez Lugo helping Monarcas to an overall 5-3 aggregate win. They will meet Cruz Azul in the semi-finals after los Cementos won by the odd goal in three in their two-legged tie against Atlante CF. Christian Giménez’s two goals in Cruz Azul’s 2-1 first leg victory proved crucial as the two teams were unable to break the deadlock in the return fixture played on Saturday.

The two-legged semi-final matches will be played on May 11-12 and May 14-15.

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Mexico: Tigres lead the way going into Clausura Play-Offs

Posted in Uncategorized by peterbein on May 2, 2011

Mexican league logoMexico’s Torneo Clausura has reached the end of the regular season stage with UANL Tigres gaining the first seed ranking going into the knockout rounds. They, along with Pumas UNAM, headed the overall table on 35 points but the Tigres pipped ahead of the Pumas by virtue of a better goal difference (+3).

Tigres ended the regular season on a successful note after defeating Club Atlas 3-0 at home on Saturday night thanks to goals from Héctor Mancilla, Lucas Lobos and Alan Pulido whilst the Pumas faltered in their quest for first seed following their 2-0 defeat at the hands of Club América, for whom Matías Vuoso and Ángel Reyna got on the score sheet. Tigres will face-off against Chivas Guadalajara who, despite losing to Monterrey in their Matchday 17 game, managed to hold out for a play-off spot while Club América’s reward is a play-off tie against Monarcas Morelia who defeated Puebla 2-0 yesterday thanks to a brace from Elías Hernández.

Newly crowned CONCACAF Champions League winners CF Monterrey have the 7th seed in the play-offs and will compete against UNAM Pumas. In the remaining play-off game fourth seeds Atlante CF, 2-1 winners at home to Toluca this weekend, will meet 5th seed Cruz Azul who could only muster a goalless draw this weekend away to Real San Luis. The play-off ties commence this Wednesday, May 4th with the return legs played at the weekend.

2011 CLAUSURA QUARTER-FINALS (Seeds in brackets; second team at home first)

Tigres UANL (1) v Chivas Guadalajara (8)

UNAM Pumas (2) v CF Monterrey (7)

Monarcas Morelia (3) v Club América (6)

CF Atlante (4) v Cruz Azul (5)

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Mexico: Monterrey and Santos qualify for Apertura final

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on November 29, 2010

Can Monterrey reclaim the Apertura title they won last season?

Monterrey and Santos Laguna have the chance to win the 2010-11 Mexican Apertura title after they defeated UNAM Pumas and Club América respectively. For Monterrey it’s a chance to defend the title that they won in the 2009-10 season whilst for Santos Laguna it’s the perfect opportunity to win a first domestic title since winning the 2007-08 Clausura tournament.

Monterrey were involved in a goalless draw in their semi-final first leg match against the Pumas and the second leg seemed destined to end in the same score line until two very late goals decided the match in Santos’ favour. Humberto Suazo finally broke the deadlock on 88 minutes with Neri Cardozo making the game safe two minutes into stoppage time by scoring the second goal of the game. Monterrey’s 2-0 win ensures that the club have the chance to defend the Apertura title they won last season, in which they defeated Cruz Azul in the final.

Santos Laguna were involved in a thrilling couple of games against Club América with the former going into last night’s second leg with a 2-1 lead. Carlos Quintero increased Santos’ aggregate lead by scoring the first goal of the return fixture after just two minutes. Vicente Sánchez restored parity on the night for Club América after 61 minutes only to see the home side re-take the lead sixty seconds later with Quintero scoring his second of the game. Matías Vuoso made the second leg 2-2 after 67 minutes but Santos regained the advantage for a third time with a quarter of an hour remaining thanks to Christian Benítez. Enrique Esqueda’s goal made the game 3-3 with five minutes to play but Santos were able to see out the rest of the match and take the tie 5-4 on aggregate.

With both Apertura finalists already qualified for the quarter-final stages of the 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League it would be the cherry on top of the cake to take domestic honours going into the second half of the season. The first leg of the Apertura final takes place on Thursday, December 2nd in the city of Torreón whilst Monterrey plays host to the second leg three days later. Both clubs have three league titles to their name – who can make sure of Number Four?

Mexico: Pumas make a meal out of title favourites Cruz Azul

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on November 22, 2010
UNAM Pumas

UNAM Pumas (white) defeated title favourites Cruz Azul 3-2 on aggregate

Top seeds Cruz Azul are out of the Mexican League play-offs following a 3-2 aggregate defeat to eighth seed UNAM Pumas. This was the biggest shock of the quarter-finals in the Torneo Apertura and next week will see CF América, Santos Laguna and Monterrey join the Pumas in the semi-finals of Mexico’s first championship of the 2010-11 season.

Having amassed 39 points in the regular season, seven more than their closest challengers Monterrey, Cruz Azul had the tag of favourites going into the knockout rounds of the current Mexican League campaign. Having won the first leg of their quarter-final 2-1 away from home against UNAM Pumas confidence was high going into Saturday’s home leg. However UNAM began the match by scoring in the very first minute. Martín Bravo’s goal silenced the home crowd and ensured that the game would continue on a nervous footing for Cruz Azul, who have gained a reputation in recent years for blowing opportunities at winning titles. This reputation was to be enhanced as Juan Carlos Cacho doubled UNAM’s second leg lead and Cruz Azul’s aggregate advantage had been overturned. Once again Cruz Azul had grasped defeat from the jaws of victory which will leave their fans believing that their club is developing some sort of curse.

UNAM Pumas’ reward for progressing to the last four is a two-legged game against Monterrey who squeezed their quarter-final game on Sunday against Pachuca CF. The two teams had drawn 1-1 in the first leg so it was pretty tight going into the second leg played in Monterrey. The home side were winning 3-1 in the 2nd leg with five minutes to go but Pachuca’s Faustino Arizala scored twice in the last five minutes to level the score at 3-3 and ensure a nervous finish to the game. However with no further scoring Monterrey go through thanks to their superior regular season record, used to determine the winners in drawn games in Mexico.

Club América, one of Mexico’s biggest clubs, have been without a domestic honour since winning the Apertura 2005 title but hopes are increasing of ending their title drought following their 4-1 win over San Luis on Saturday. Following a goalless first leg Club América made the most of home advantage in the return fixture and took a 3-0 lead into the break thanks to Vicente Sánchez, an Anibel Matellán own goal and Enrique Esqueda. San Luis pulled a goal back in the second half with Diego de la Torre reducing the arrears but América regained their three goal cushion with nine minutes to play, Vicente Vuoso’s goal putting the game to bed. Club América will play Santos Laguna in the semi-finals. With the first leg of their quarter-final fixture against Jaguares de Chiapas ending in a 1-1 draw, Santos Laguna got through to the last four stage by virtue of their second leg 1-0 win over their opponents on Sunday. A very late penalty from Juan Pablo Rodriguez, six minutes into stoppage time, gave Santos Laguna the victory.

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Mexico: Champions Four lead the way in Apertura (+video)

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on September 27, 2010
Cruz Azul v Monterrey

Cruz Azul (light blue shirts) and Monterrey have the best records in the Apertura after nine games

Nine matches into Mexico’s 19 game Torneo Apertura regular season and it is the quartet of teams who are currently gracing the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) who have the best records amongst all of the teams in their domestic top flight. Stoppage Time – International Football Blog reviews the latest developments.

For those unfamiliar with the make-up of Mexico’s domestic league the championship is split into two halves: Torneo Apertura (Opening Championship) and Torneo Clausura (Closing Championship). In each championship eighteen teams are split into three groups of six and every team plays each other once during the regular season. The eight teams with the best records then begin the knockout phase to decide the winner of that particular championship. At the moment the Apertura has effectively reached the halfway stage and the four teams with the best records are currently those same four involved in North and Central America’s elite club competition, reviews of which you can read about on Stoppage Time throughout the season.

Two of the CONCACAF representatives top the standings in Group 1 where Monterrey (the only team with a 100% record in the CCL) and Santos Laguna have been fighting for the leadership over the weekend. Monterrey were top going into Matchday 9 but were held to a goalless draw away at Querétaro which allowed Santos Laguna the opportunity to go to Club América and reclaim the leadership. Alas they were defeated in an exciting game by the odd goal in five as goals from Christian Benítez and Fernando Arce were not enough for Santos as they lost 3-2 with all of the goals coming in the first half. In the group standings Monterrey have 19 points from 9 games but Santos are a point behind with a game in hand.

Group 2 sees Toluca hold a narrow one point lead following their weekend victory 2-1 away at Monarcas Morelia. All of the goals came in the second half with Hugo Droguett’s 54th minute goal for the home side being sandwiched by strikes from Toluca’s Héctor Mancilla (51 mins) and Néstor Calderón (67 mins) which allowed the visitors to come away with the three points. Real San Luis had the chance to go above Toluca prematurely on Saturday night but missed out after they succumbed to a 2-1 defeat away at Jaguares. Both teams went in at the break tied at 1-1 and it was a goal from Jaguares’ Carlos Ochoa midway through the second half which proved decisive. Club América, following their Sunday victory against Santos, now lie second in the group.

The team with the best record at this stage is Cruz Azul. The 2009 CCL finalists have a nine point advantage over Jaguares at the top of Group 3, this despite going down to a 2-1 defeat on Saturday away at Necaxa. Christian Giménez’s 66th minute penalty halved the deficit for Cruz Azul after Darío Gandín (13 minutes) and Nicolás Pavlovich (36 mins) had given the home side a healthy two goal cushion at half time. Unfortunately Cruz Azul were unable to find an equalizer but that shouldn’t deter the team from finding their way into the play-offs as they currently hold a 7-0-2 record after nine games and are well on course in both domestic and international competition, just like their fellow group table-toppers.


FIFA World Cup Review – North and Central America

Posted in International Football, North and Central American Football by peterbein on July 12, 2010
Landon Donovan

Landon Donovan secured the USA a place in the last sixteen of the FIFA World Cup

Stoppage Time – International Football Blog continues to review each of the respective continental fortunes in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Here we look at the three nations that comprised the challenge from the CONCACAF North and Central American region.

The United States qualified for their sixth straight FIFA World Cup finals and were hoping to reach at least the quarter-finals to equal their best ever performance. The Americans were involved in some of South Africa’s most memorable and controversial moments for as long as they were in the tournament. Their opening group match against England saw them fall behind after just four minutes to a Steven Gerrard goal but they restored parity five minutes before the break when England keeper Robert Green hilariously let the ball slip his grasp to gift Clint Dempsey the equalizer. They also had to come from behind to salvage a point against Slovenia who were two goals to the good at half time before Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley brought them level. With Slovenia on the ropes Maurice Edu thought he’d won the game with five minutes remaining but the referee disallowed the goal for a foul which nobody saw. The final group match against Algeria saw more late drama as, with the game goalless and deep into stoppage time, Landon Donovan scored from six yards out to give the USA top spot in the group over England and a round of sixteen encounter against Ghana. Sadly for coach Bob Bradley his team were unable to progress when it mattered as they dominated a second half in which they came back from a 1-0 half time deficit. But the game went into extra-time where Asamoah Gyan wrote history for the Africans with a beautifully struck goal which knocked the Americans out of the competition.

Having had a terrible start to World Cup qualifying the Mexicans had steadied the ship under coach Javier Aguirre and were quietly optimistic that they could qualify from their group. Mexico had the pleasure of participating in the opening game of the tournament against hosts South Africa who took the lead after 55 minutes after Siphiwe Tshabalala. The Bafana Bafana were to rue some late lack of concentration when Rafael Márquez equalized with twenty minutes to go and ensured that Mexico would gain a point from the match. The second game brought more joy for El Tri where they got the better of a French side beset by infighting and a lack of morale. Javier Hernández and Cuauhtémoc Blanco scored the goals which put paid to French hopes and gave them a top of the group clash with Uruguay to decide the group. The Mexicans, sadly for them, lost their final group match to a Luis Suárez goal and this meant that they finished second in the group and had a clash with Argentina in the round of sixteen stage for the second consecutive tournament. When the game took place Mexico were fuming about Carlos Tévez’s opening goal in which he was stood in an offside position but hadn’t been spotted by the officials. Once Gonzalo Higuaín had made it 2-0 there was really no way back for the Mexicans, who had to watch Tévez score his second before pulling one back through Javier Hernández in a 3-1 defeat which signalled the end of the road.

The final team from the CONCACAF region to be represented were Honduras who were in the same group as European champions Spain, Chile and Switzerland. In their opening game against Chile it was to be disappotment for Los Catrachos when Jean Beausejour’s 34th minute strike was enough to separate the two teams and lead Honduras to defeat. Their second game saw them go down to a double strike from David Villa in a game the Spanish should’ve won with more goals but, in the end, Honduras had to be grateful just for conceding two especially as Villa missed a penalty kick which would’ve seen him score a hat trick. Honduras’ final group match against Switzerland was one of the worst matches of the tournament and was no surprise when it finished as a goalless draw. Every cloud has a silver lining, however, and Honduras celebrated their first and only point in South Africa even if they couldn’t prevent themselves finishing bottom of the group.

So what about the future? The next tournament in Brazil in four years time may provide some benefit to the nations that qualify from CONCACAF as they may be more adept at acclimatizing to the conditions than some of their opponents. But even if one doesn’t take that in to consideration one can only hope that this region does provide a meaningful challenge in the near future as the potential of countries such as the big two, Mexico and the United States, is as yet unrealized in this competition. The former have only qualified for the last eight on two occasions whilst the latter’s third place in the inaugural FIFA World Cup in 1930 is too far in the past to have any significance today. Expectations after their 2002 quarter-final appearance may have reached unrealistic proportions going into the 2006 tournament where the USA failed to get past the group stage but the talent is growing steadily in that region and we can hope that one of them might trouble the usual suspects in 2014.