By DANIEL PRICE
First-placed Cruz Azul extended their lead at the top of the Liga MX to six points following a comprehensive 1-0 over Toluca in Mexico City. For the home side it was a sweet revenge for last’s season’s 4-1 Liguilla defeat to Cardozo’s men.
Cruz Azul’s attacking quartet of Fabian, Formica, Rojas and Pavone were dangerous throughout, and each of them could consider themselves not to get on the score-sheet at some point. The winner came via Chaco Gimenez, a second half substitute who had only been on the pitch for a little over ten minutes when he nodded home Rogelio Chavez’s free-kick in the 80th minute.
Toluca’s leading scorer Pablo Velazquez looked the most likely to make something happen for visitors, both hitting the post and having a second half goal ruled out for offside.
The win sees Cruz Azul on the verge of securing a playoff spot at the mid-point of the season, while Toluca stay second and comfortably inside the top eight. Next up for Los Cementeros is a trip to Tigres UANL, while Toluca will play Puebla in La Bombonera.
Here’s a closer look at the best of Liga MX from Clausura Round 7:
ATLANTE COMPLETE REMARKABLE COMEBACK
Atlante kept alive their hopes of playing football in Mexico’s top division next season with 2-1 victory over Morelia.
Morelia led inside ten minutes thanks to Colombian forward Aldo Leao’s first goal of the season. However, Atlante were the better side, and after having an effort disallowed in the first half they deserved their 70th minute equalizer. Roberto Gutiérrez got the goal from an Atlante corner, taking advantage of a misplaced punch by Morelia’s goalkeeper.
Atlante completed the turnaround to win the game in dramatic fashion in the 91st minute. Michael Arroyo was the hero, bending a wonderful free-kick over the wall and into the corner of the net.
Post-match news broke that the result had cost Morelia manager Eduardo de la Torre his job, the second time that the club have sacked their manager this season. De la Torre lasted only seven matches following his replacing of Carlos Bustos in January, and potential new managers will now surely be wary of accepting an offer from the club.
ATLAS WIN TO INTENSIFY RELEGATION BATTLE
Following Atlante’s win the pressure was firmly on Atlas to get something out of an away game against Santos Laguna. Most observers predicted the visitors would get easily beaten, but they dumbfounded their critics to walk away with an impressive 3-2 win.
Santos looked to be in cruise-control when Carlos Quintero gave them the lead after 17 minutes, but two Atlas goals in quick succession either side of the half-hour mark saw the away side take a 2-1 lead into halftime.
Santos squandered several second half chances to get themselves level before allowing Rodrigo Millar to score his second and Atlas’ third – thus wrapping up the three points five minutes from time. Jose Abella still had time to get a second for Santos in the 90th minute, but it was too little too late.
Assuming Queretaro are allowed to maintain their Liga MX status, the relegation fight appears to be a three-way battle between Atlante, Atlas and Veracruz.
BEST OF THE REST
Club America ended their three game losing streak by winning 2-1 at Monterrey, Puebla responded to their 8-0 Copa MX defeat to Tigres UANL by beating Queretaro 1-0, and Club Leon continued their return to form by winning 3-0 in Chiapas.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Michael Arroyo – Atlante: Arroyo kept his cool to score a winning free-kick deep into stoppage time in Atlante’s game against Morelia. The three points were absolutely vital to Atlante, who briefly lifted themselves off the foot of the relegation table before Veracruz’s draw with Club Tijuana on Saturday night.
Here’s a look at the full results from Clausura Round 9 in Liga MX:
Morelia 1, Atlante 2
Santos Laguna 2, Atlas 3
Cruz Azul 1, Toluca 0
Veracruz 1, Club Tijuana 1
Monterrey 1, Club America 2
Chiapas 0, Club Leon 3
Puebla 1, Queretaro 0
Pumas UNAM 0, Pachuca 0
Chivas de Guadalajara 0, Tigres UANL 0