By DANIEL PRICE
Cruz Azul drew 2-2 with Pachuca in the Estadio Azul, after battling back from two goals down in dramatic fashion. The free-flowing and open game saw the sides rack up 15 shots each, providing an engaging and entertaining spectacle for both sets of fans and the neutrals alike.
The first half finished goalless, but the game exploded into life in the second period. Enner Valencia broke the deadlock for the visitors in the 57th minute thanks to a mistake from substitute goalkeeper Guillermo Allison, and the same player doubled the lead only five minutes later.
As the game entered the final five minutes it appeared Cruz Azul were heading for their second home defeat of the season, but Christian Gimenez gave the fans hope with a fortunate penalty before former Philadelphia Union player Michael Farfan grabbed a dramatic equalizer in stoppage time.
After resting several key players in anticipation of the CONCACAF Champions League final on Wednesday, Cruz Azul will be very happy with their comeback. The draw means they maintain a two point lead over Toluca at the top of the league, while Pachuca drop to sixth.
Here’s a closer look at the best of Liga MX from Clausura Round 15:
TOLUCA WIN AHEAD OF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL
Cruz Azul’s opponents in Wednesday’s final also had to battle back from a losing position this weekend – emerging as 2-1 victors against Club Leon in La Bombonera.
Like Cruz Azul, Leon chose to rest several of their first 11 for the game in anticipation of their Copa Libertadores home match against Club Bolivar on Wednesday night. Having progressed from a difficult group, Leon obviously feel they could become the first Mexican side to lift the trophy this summer.
Leon took the lead after 19 minutes through Mauricio Castaneda and nearly managed to maintain their advantage to halftime. However, in the 42nd minute Gabriel Velasco equalized with a well-executed 30-yard drive before Oscar Rojas sealed the win with a free kick 10 minutes into the second half.
There was late drama as Toluca’s Edy Brambila was dismissed for a rash challenge on Jorge Calderon – but the hosts held on to maintain pressure on league leaders Cruz Azul. Both sides should now head into this week’s final in a confident mood.
CLUB AMERICA WIN THANKS TO EARLY STRIKE
Club America bounced back from last weekend’s defeat to Cruz Azul to earn a 1-0 win against Puebla in the Estadio Cuauhtemoc.
Mexican international Miguel Layun scored the only goal of the game in the second minute. He picked up the ball 30 yards out and unleashed a vicious effort which seemed to catch Raul Villalpando by surprise.
Thereafter the game was evenly matched, with both sides amassing several shots on goal. America’s task was undoubtedly made easier by the 61st minute dismissal of Uriel Alvarez Rivera, after which Puebla rarely looked threatening.
America’s win sees them move up to third while Puebla rooted to the bottom of the table, three points behind nearest rivals Veracruz.
BEST OF THE REST
Club Tijuana scored a late equalizer to draw 1-1 with Tigres and deny their opponents a vital three points in their quest for a Liguilla spot, Queretaro’s Camilo scored his second goal in two games as they beat Atlas 1-0, and Atlante will be relegated to the second-tier Ascenso MX next season after losing 4-3 to Santos Laguna.
Here’s a full look at all the results from Clausura Round 15 in the Liga MX:
Queretaro 1, Atlas 0
Cruz Azul 2, Pachuca 2
Veracruz 1, Pumas UNAM 1
Tigres UANL 1, Club Tijuana 1
Chiapas 1, Monterrey 1
Puebla 0, Club America 1
Toluca 2, Club Leon 1
Chivas de Guadalajara 1, Morelia 1
Santos Laguna 4, Atlante 3