The Xoloitzcuitles of Tijuana returned to action this Saturday night in the domestic Liga MX competition and where held to a 0-0 draw by Santos Laguna. Xolos dominated the game from start to finish, but where unable to reflect that dominance in the scoreboard.
Xolos manager Antonio 'Turco' Mohamed knew a win was a must and sent out his best starting eleven for this game; with the exception of center striker Alfredo Moreno who is still injured. In his place was the all time leading goal scorer in Xolos history Raul Enriquez.
The Tijuana players also were well aware of the importance of points and went out looking for goals right from the kick off. All of the early pressure nearly paid off in the third minute when central defender Pablo Aguilar got his head onto a Fernando Arce free kick. Santos goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez was well aware and was able to make the safe in his lower right post.
Aguilar got his head onto a Diego Olsina cross that was once again covered up by Sanchez in the seventh minute if play.
Santos could not find the way to ease the Tijuana pressure. The Santos midfielders had to drop back deep to help defend and left the forwards stranded up top. All they could manage to do was clear the ball and hope one of their forwards could chase the ball down.
In spite of all the Xoloitzcuile pressure on the Santos goal, it was the Torreon side who managed to get the ball into the back of the net. But the play was wrongfully called off for an offsides position.
The referee sent the game into half time right at the 45 minute mark with the score 0-0.
For the second half, there was an encore presentation of what the first half had brought. A Xolos team pressuring hard for a goal that could lead them to three points. And a well organized Santos team that looked to frustrate the Tijuana offense.
The most dangerous play of the game came in the 50th minute of play when Raul Enriquez took a free kick that hit the cross bar and bounced on the goal line. The entire ball did not cross the line so no goal was awarded; but in the ensuing rebounds there looked to be a hand ball committed by Santos defender Felipe Baloy. Baloy found himself on the ground with his arm stretched out and on two occasions his arm prevented the ball from advancing. Center referee decided not to call a penalty kick in favor of the Xolos.
Tijuana kept up the dominance of the game enjoying a majority of the ball possession, while Santos kept looking to just clear the danger and hope one of their speedy forwards could run down a ball a build a counter attack.
The game started to get a bit rough towards the end with Santos players committing several fouls to cut down Xolo attacks. This nearly got out of control due to the fact referee Alfredo Peñaloza did not show any yellow cards at all during the game. This of course was due to Peñaloza's disastrous performance in the Mexico Clasico last weekend when he wrongfully handed out too many cards.
With this draw Santos remains in forth place of the league now with 23 points. Xolos on the other hand improved to eighth place; the last playoff spot with 18 points. But this could all change tomorrow; a Monterrey win over Toluca would see Xolos drop back down to ninth place; outside of the playoff zone.
The Xoloitzcuitles will be back in action this next Wednesday night April 10 when they host Colombian side Millonarios in the last group game of the Copa Libertadores. Xolos have already sealed their ticket to the next round of that competition, and there is the possibility of an alternative squad for that game.
The next Liga MX game for the Mohamed boys will be next Saturday when they travel to Mexico City to face Cruz Azul. Cruz Azul currently has 17 points; one less than Xolos. This game will be of great importance in the playoff race for both teams.