Saturday 09 December 2017, 18:55

Pachuca patience pays off for Guzman

  • Pachuca set up semi-final clash with Gremio after a nail-biting victory

  • Victor Guzman scored the winner in extra-time

  • Midfielder has a history of netting important goals for Los Tuzos

The overriding feeling in the Pachuca camp was one of great relief amongst the catacombs of the Zayed Sports City stadium in Abu Dhabi after their victory over Wydad Casablanca.

Despite creating a number of chances in their opening fixture at the FIFA Club World Cup, the Mexican side lacked precision in front of goal, only getting what they needed once into extra time.

In doing so, they buried the ghosts of tournaments past: in Los Tuzos' three previous appearances at the competition they had only made it past the second round on one occasion. This time, it was Victor Guzman who came to the rescue.

"I scored the goal but we know the victory is the result of everyone's hard work," he told shortly after leaving the changing room.

While that may be true, even prior to his precise header into the net, it was Guzman who had tirelessly driven his side forward as they looked to score. He was involved in almost every attempt at goal, but the ball simply would not go in.

"It's psychological more than anything," he said. "When you see things aren't working out, you just have to keep trying and trying until they do." Guzman also revealed his secret to avoid letting frustration get the better of him in such situations: "The most important move is always the next one because the previous ones are already in the past."

Victor Guzman fact file

  • Born in Tonala, Jalisco

  • The 22-year-old was released by Atlas as a youngster due to his small stature, and he subsequently considered quitting football

  • After struggling to establish himself at Chivas de Guadalajara, his career took a turn for the better upon arriving at Pachuca in 2015

  • A creative central midfielder, he was the top Mexican scorer in the regular Liga MX season with eight goals

The triumph against Wydad Casablanca was not the first time Guzman has proven decisive for his side. Last year he scored another header in the Liga MX final to hand Pachuca the title.

Emmanuel Garcia provided the assist for him on that day, whereas here it was Jonathan Urretaviscaya.

"His greatest strength is his crossing," Guzman said of today's provider with a smile. "He puts them right on your head. He set up most of the goals I scored in the league this season. We just have to be in the right place to get on the end of them."

Having banished the prospect of once again playing in the match for fifth place, Guzman is hopeful that his team's finishing will improve in the semi-finals, where they will face South American champions Gremio. "We'll have to be fully focused right from the off and not concede, because I'm sure we'll have a lot of opportunities to score that we can take advantage of," he said. "Unfortunately we didn't do that today, but we can get those goals in other matches."

"Victor's a great player, he's matured a lot and I'm running out of ways to praise him." – Diego Alonso