Threatened with relegation at the end of the season, Estudiantes Tecos hosted Atlante Friday night and came away with a 2-1 victory, their first of the 2012 Clausura. For a club that seems like the odds-on favorite to go to the Liga de Ascenso next season, the three points could prove to be vital for remaining in the Primera.
Tecos started the scoring in the 14th minute on a good combination play. 'Pony' Rodrigo Ruiz looked up and sent a cross from the right side of midfield toward the goal, which was knocked over by Edgar Solis, who hit it from left of the goal straight to Eduardo Lillingston. The veteran forward hit Solis' pass off the bounce right in front of goal and gave Tecos a somewhat shocking lead. Atlante leveled the score in the 25th minute when Michael Arroyo hit a fine shot from just outside the left corner of the 18-yard box to the right corner of the goal that fooled Tecos goalkeeper Christian Martinez. Tecos certainly has reason to be upset about the poor defending that gave Arroyo the space to make such a shot.
But Tecos took the lead again in the 32nd minute when a corner kick reached captain Cheto Leano, who headed the ball emphatically from about 10 yards out. A defender not known for his goalscoring prowess, Leano's goal may prove consequential for his club's chances of avoiding relegation this season.
The second half was largely devoid of scoring chances even though Tecos stayed back and defended more than in the first half and Atlante tried to earn a draw.
Two chances in particular stand out. First, Arroyo took a terrific shot on a free kick in the 53rd minute that would have gone in if Martinez had not made an outstanding save. Then in the 79th minute, Geronimo Amione almost poked the ball in on a stretch off a long-range shot from Andres Mendoza, but he couldn't quite reach the ball. Meanwhile, for Tecos, Ruiz nearly iced the win with a lob of the goalkeeper in the 87th minute, but an Atlante defender tracked back and cleared the ball just in time.
The win brings Tecos up to 16th place from 17th, at least until tomorrow when Queretaro plays. More importantly, three points can really help their points average, which determines relegation at the end of the season.
Although this was a big victory, it won't ultimately be helpful for Tecos unless they can put together a run of victories over the rest of the campaign. On the other hand, for Atlante, the loss keeps them in midtable, although they may drop a few spots over the weekend depending on how teams immediately below them fare. They now sit in 8th place, so they are in Liguilla range, but they have to get some more wins before they can count on making the Liguilla.