Pumas' Santiago Palacios (blue jersey) celebrates after scoring against visiting Morelia in a Liga MX Apertura match on November 6, 2016, in Mexico City. (Photo: Straffon Images)
MEXICO CITY – After a 1-1 draw with visiting Morelia on Sunday, Pumas (7W-3D-6L, 24 points) sits seventh in the 2016 Liga MX Apertura standings and hovers above Toluca only on goal difference (+3 to +2).
If the regular season was to end today, both sides would earn a playoff berth. With one game remaining in the regular season, however, ninth-place Leon and tenth-place Monterrey remain in contention, trailing by one and two points, respectively.
Pumas rallied to take a point at the Estadio Olimpico Universitario. Raul Ruidiaz gave Morelia an early 1-0 lead, but Santiago Palacios leveled in the 71st minute as he struck for his first goal of the campaign in just his second appearance.
Despite the demanding nature of the contest, Pumas defender and captain Luis Fuentes somehow managed to exude calm afterwards.
“We are still in the fight,” he reassured the fans. “We are in seventh and we are looking for that ticket (to the playoffs).”
Fuentes denied that the 2016/17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinalist may have been complacent against the 12th place Monarcas.
“It wasn’t overconfidence,” the 30-year-old said. “They did their job with their defense and their goalkeeper, which were very good. Sometimes it’s more complicated and, on this occasion, it just didn’t get done.”
Pumas winger Pablo Barrera opined that errors contributed to making the game closer than it needed to be and that the decisive performance at Puebla on November 20 will need to be markedly improved.
“You have to be more focused in the 90 minutes and net our chances,” finished Barrera. “We have to play a perfect match on defense and offense. Now, against Puebla, we have to score our chances.”