The game got complicated for Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente after midfielder Fernando Arce was sent off for an alleged insult on the referee in the 38th minute. Xolos defeated Atlante FC 4-1 at the Caliente stadium in their final home game of the regular season.
Argentine Dario Benedetto was the stand out player that Xolos fans have been waiting to see all season. The former Arsenal de Sarandi player scored a brace in the thrashing, the first goals he’s scored since his “hat trick” against Atlas FC on opening day at the Caliente.
“Fortunately the net opened up for me,” Benedetto said after the game. “I was on a negative streak with injuries. I’d had few approaches on goal. But by luck today I was able to score. It puts us back into the competition. We’re still in contention.”
Benedetto put Xolos up in the 12th minute after receiving a pass from Arce. Alone in front of the goalkeeper who anticipated a low shot, Benedetto shot to the top near corner to put the score 1-0. Xolos were in control of the game.
Then the game changed in the 38th when the referee sent Arce off the pitch. The numerical superiority was instantly evident on the field. Atlante began to advance their lines pushing Xolos back. With a minute left in the first half a ball hit Paraguayan Pablo Aguilar in the arm in the area. The referee blew the whistle and pointed at the spot. Angel Sepulveda converted for Potros de Hierro for the 1-1.
Xolos were able to recover in the second half. Coach Jorge Almiron had made his first substitution after the red card bringing in Javier Güemez for Raul Enriquez. At the half he brought in American Edgar Castillo for Ecuadorian Fidel Martinez. Castillo moved the ball along the wings creating havoc for the visiting squad.
Richard Ruiz was taken down in the area and the referee pointed at the spot once more. Argentine Cristian Pellerano shot form the spot to give Xolos the lead once more. The goal raised the heat for both teams. In the 66th an altercation broke out between the squads involving Sergio Perez and Benedetto.
“It’s something that stays on the field,” Benedetto said. “It wasn’t a big deal. The game got heated a little but came under control quickly.”
The yellow card did not slow Perez down and three minutes later he went after Benedetto from behind. The referee booked him with his second yellow, automatic red card. The teams were even on the pitch once more.
The home squad once again took control. A ball taken into the area past the Atlante defense by Juan Carlos Nuñez rebounded off a player and into Benedetto’s boots. The Argentine did not hesitate and hammered the ball into the net once more for the 3-1.
“Like I said I was returning from a negative streak, I was coming out of this injury and back on the field, I felt really good and I was able to score the goals,” Benedetto concluded.
As if the 3-1 wasn’t enough, Ruiz received the ball and with the defense with their backs against him he moved into the area alone. Goalkeeper Eder Patiño came off his line. Ruiz chipped the ball past him, moved around him and redirected the ball into the net for the final 4-1. Tijuana is still in contention for a playoff spot, but must win their next game and depend on the result of other games to qualify.