Landon Donovan makes his first Leon appearance in win over Puebla
LEON, Mexico -- U.S. legend Landon Donovan made his Leon debut on Saturday, coming off the bench in the 83rd minute in his team's 2-1 Liga MX victory over Puebla.
The 35-year-old was playing his first match since he announced his return to the game in January, following a 14-month period since his last appearance for LA Galaxy on Nov. 6, 2016.
Donovan came on with Leon already 2-1 up and looking to see out the game, with the American's every touch applauded by the home fans.
Donovan, who played in a central attacking midfield tole, almost set up a chance in the 90th minute, when he crossed from the left side of the penalty area, but Elias Hernandez couldn't get a shot away.
Donovan's presentation had been met with enthusiasm by Leon fans last month, despite the forward's history and success for the United States national team against Mexico, but there were only around 20,000 in Estadio Leon to witness the former Everton player's Liga MX debut.
Excitement ahead of the game had been dampened by Leon's 4-0 loss to Necaxa in its last home Liga MX game and a 5-1 defeat to Monterrey last weekend, with the club not winning any of its last five games in league or cup play.
Mauro Boselli lifted the fans in the third minute, when he guided a forceful header past Puebla goalkeeper Moises Munoz to open the scoring, with Mexico international Elias Hernandez providing the right wing cross.
It was another cross from Hernandez that provided Leon's second. This time, Andres Andrade finished at the back post from a corner to provide what seemed to be a comfortable lead for the home side in the 21st.
Puebla went into the break 2-0 down, but had enjoyed more possession in the first half, although La Franja struggled playing out from the back and didn't have any clear chances.
Puebla manager Enrique Meza put on Uruguayan forward Christian Tabo at half-time and he pulled a goal back for Puebla six minutes later, with the away team improving in the second half.
The match became scrappy as Puebla chased the result and Hugo Rodriguez had a good chance to level with inside the last five minutes.
The result moved Leon temporarily up into fifth in the Liga MX table on 10 points, with Puebla in sixth on nine midweek through round six of matches.
Donovan and Leon's next match is away against Santos Laguna on Wednesday in Torreon.
Tom Marshall covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @MexicoWorldCup.