Estadio Caliente was once again cheering. The Tijuana faithful were once again singing and chanting, celebrating goals and celebrating three points. The Xoloitzcuintles picked up their first win of the new season on Friday night with a 2-0 victory over visiting Santos Laguna.
It took a while, it took a little longer than what Xolos and new manager Eduardo Coudet might have wanted but Xolos have finally broken the 6-game streak without a win. The last time the Tijuana fans celebrated a victory was during last season’s quarterfinals when Xolos defeated Monarcas Morelia 2-0. Since then it was a 5-game losing streak plus a draw last week to Puebla.
Argentinians Gustavo Bou and Ignacio Malcorra scored a pair of first half goals to lead the Xolos to the win on Friday against Santos.
“We (now) feel identified with the style of play,” said Coudet in his post game news conference on Friday night. “We played a great first half. We couldn’t get more in the second half but we will continue to build from this.”
Xolos put in their best performance of the season during the opening 45 minutes. They created dangerous plays on the Santos goal and they took advantage putting tow of those in the back of the net. And while Santos did not offer much during the opening period, the Xolos defense made sure to contain the visitor’s counter attack intentions.
The defensive unit had more to deal with in the second half as the visitors were much more aggressive looking for a goal that could open the path to a comeback. But the Coudet’s 5-man defensive line held Santos back and made sure goalkeeper Gibran Lajud had a rather easy night.
“Yes, I did struggle a bit during the first few games,” said Argentine striker Gustavo Bou who scored the first goal of the night against Santos. “I think this was a normal process. For me to adapt to Mexican football, to my new teammates and of course to this field.
“But I know that when I’m at 100 percent I’ll be able to take advantage of my chances (in front of goal). It was good to get the first one last week and thankfully I was able to score again today.”
Bou, 27, arrived in Tijuana at the start of this season. He was brought in to be the main striker now that Aviles Hurtado, Dayro Moreno, Gabriel Hauche and Milton Caraglio were all gone from the team that led Xolos to top the league table two seasons in a row. Bou scored his first Liga MX goal last weekend in Puebla helping the Xolos overcome a 1-0 deficit to earn a 1-1 draw and the first point of the season. On Friday, Bou got his first goal at Estadio Caliente which gave the home side the momentum it needed to get the win.
The Xolos had dominated the match during the first half. Visiting Santos Laguna sat back hoping that the Xolos attack would frustrate themselves like it had been doing during the first four matches of the season. But the Bou goal rewarded Xolos for their attacking efforts and gave the team the momentum boost it needed. Ignacio Malcorra’s goal minutes later also help establish the clear superiority that Xolos had over Santos and allow the team to the mental fortitude to see out the game.
Also big moral boost at Estadio Caliente on Friday was the unofficial announcement from several sources that Paraguayan international (Argentine born) Juan Manuel Iturbe would be joining Xolos from Italian club AS Roma.
“Hopefully we all continue to grow. We all know of the characteristics of (Juan Manuel) Iturbe going forward. Hopefully he can adapt quickly and we can all take advantage (of his skill)” said Bou of his soon to be teammate Juan Manuel Iturbe.