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Santos Laguna, Toluca linked by their owners

Liga MX
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 By Tom Marshall

Santos Laguna moves to the top as Chivas, America tie in Clasico Nacional

Djaniny's run as this Clausura's top scorer continued as Santos Laguna's win moves them to the top of the Liga MX table.

While this week's clausura was dominated by the 1-1 Clasico Nacional draw on Saturday between Chivas and Club America, there were plenty of other storylines. Here are five:

1. Djaniny moves Santos Laguna into top spot

Cape Verde international Djaniny Tavares made it 12 goals in 10 games this Clausura in Santos Laguna's 2-1 win in Aguascalientes against Necaxa. Djaniny has more goals on his own this season than six Liga MX clubs have in total and twice as many as any other player except Tigres' Andre-Pierre Gignac, who has netted seven of his own.

Djaniny's equalizer from inside the penalty area in the 18th minute canceled out Victor Davila's opener for Necaxa two minutes earlier. An own goal by Igor Lichnovsky sealed the victory for Santos Laguna.

Los Guerreros have found stability under Uruguayan coach Robert Siboldi after a misfiring Apertura. The fact that the center-back partnership between Carlos Izquierdoz and Nestor Araujo have remained fit has helped, as has the signing of Jose Juan "Gallito" Vazquez from Chivas. That move is looking more and more like the deal of the winter transfer window.

But the team's improvement has been topped off by the form of the outstanding Djaniny, who set up the winner on Saturday and is on course to be crowned player of the Clausura.

Behind Santos, Tigres jumped up to fourth with a convincing and altogether too easy 2-0 win over Veracruz on Sunday. Toluca overcame Pachuca 2-1 to move into third, behind Santos and Club America, which is the only undefeated team this season.

2. All square between Almeyda, Herrera in Clasico Nacional

One particularly intriguing narrative in this year's Clasico Nacional was the battle on the benches between Las Aguilas' Miguel Herrera and Guadalajara's Matias Almeyda.

The context here is that with current Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio uncommitted about his future after the World Cup, both Herrera and Almeyda have not-so-subtly indicated they would be interested in the job.

We saw in the Clasico that the DNA of both these managers is to attack, providing a game that lived up to the hype and was good publicity for Liga MX. But questions surrounding both coaches remain.

For Almeyda, the way team has performed ever since the 2017 Clausura title win is a concern, especially defensively. The negative results at Chivas can no longer be written off as a title hangover or a blip.

Herrera's temperament caused him to be axed as El Tri's  manager before and we haven't seen much evidence that he's changed -- although naming Yon de Luisa, who previously held roles within Club America, as Mexican federation president after the World Cup would seem to give him some hope.

What is for certain on Saturday's evidence is that if Herrera or Almeyda does become the next Mexico manager, the team will be set up to play attractive football.

3. Time to give Ruidiaz his dues

Morelia's Peruvian international Raul Ruidiaz just can't stop scoring quality goals. The 27-year-old followed up last week's 30-yard strike against Tigres with an athletic volley in Morelia's 2-1 win over last-placed Atlas on Friday.

Ruidiaz isn't one of the higher-profile players in Liga MX and his team doesn't garner many headlines in the national press. But his record since he joined Morelia in the summer of 2016 means he has to be in the conversation when it comes to debating the league's best strikers.

"We won the lottery with Raul Ruidiaz," was how Morelia coach Roberto Hernandez put it on Friday.

Ruidiaz has scored 36 goals in 64 Liga MX games -- one every 144 minutes -- and has two scoring titles. His goals-to-minutes ratio in Liga MX is actually better than Tigres' French striker Andre-Pierre Gignac.

All this is very good news for Peru manager Ricardo Gareca ahead of the World Cup, as well as Morelia, who can enjoy his goals for now and would be set to make a significant amount of profit should the striker move on.

4. Pumas, Cruz Azul sliding

Pumas started the 2018 Clausura with a bang. All the talk in the early few weeks was about Pumas' resurrection under David Patino, but Saturday's 3-0 capitulation away to Leon means the Mexico City university club has just one point from the last possible 12. And the match against Leon ended with captain Pablo Barrera screaming at coach Patino after he was subbed out and proceeding to kick over water bottles.

The Pumas boss called the whole performance "an embarrassment" and said he'd be sitting down to talk with Barrera.

But as low morale may be at Pumas, city neighbor Cruz Azul is going through an even worse time.

Portuguese manager Pedro Caixinha's side fell 1-0 to a late Camilo Sanvezzo goal to hand Queretaro the three points. Cruz Azul dominated the game, spawning a penalty and late opportunity to equalize through Adrian Aldrete.

It's zero wins in eight Liga MX games now for Cruz Azul and the way Aldrete left the field in tears tells you that the pressure really is on.

5. Minnow Puebla's run continues

If the trip to Monterrey was a litmus test of Puebla's real playoff credentials, La Franja made a statement with their 3-1 victory in Estadio BBVA Bancomer. It was the first win for Puebla away against Rayados in 23 years in a stadium that few teams come away from with a win.

The victory virtually guarantees Puebla won't be relegated this May, but coach Enrique Meza is looking at the other end of the table and believes the team can "still play better."

Monterrey coach Antonio Mohamed was forthright in his criticism of his team's performance, putting the blame on himself.

"I'm responsible and what I have to do is find the solution," he said afterwards.

One of the debates likely going round Mohamed's mind will be whether to continue the experiment of having midfielder Jesus Molina in a back five.

Tom Marshall covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @MexicoWorldCup.

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