By DANIEL PRICE
Mexico National Team captain Rafa Marquez got the perfect World Cup send-off on Sunday night as Club Leon were crowned the champions of Mexico for the second time in six months.
Leon beat Pachuca, 4-3, over the two legged-final, overturning a 3-2 defeat from the opening game by winning 2-0 in the Estadio Hidalgo. It was a fitting end to what has been a highly entertaining Clausura tournament.
The champions played the first leg in front of their own fans on Thursday night and looked utterly dominant for the first forty minutes. Forty one year old Pachuca ‘keeper Oscar Perez had already made a string of fine saves before Carlos Pena eventually gave them a 34th minute lead, but their advantage lasted less than ten minutes after Enner Valencia drew the visitors level.
Valencia added a second after an hour, and when Hirving Lozano made it 3-1 with twenty minutes remaining it seemed as though Leon’s dreams of back-to-back titles were slipping away. Pachuca seemed happy with the result, but a 77th minute Miguel Herrera own goal put Leon back in contention ahead of last night’s second leg.
All five goals in the first leg came from set pieces, and Leon responded with a much-improved defensive performance in the second leg. Perez was once again busy in the Pachuca goal, but after a good performance he will be disappointed not to have prevented Boselli’s opening goal midway through the second half. Away goals do not apply in the final, and with the tie ending 3-3 on aggregate after ninety minutes extra time was needed to separate the teams.
The winner eventually came courtesy of a Juan Gonzalez header in the 112th minute as he took advantage of some poor marking to beat Perez from close range. Pachuca pushed hard for the goal that would have forced penalties but couldn’t find a way through, leaving Leon to celebrate their impressive double.
Here’s a look at both the results from the Liga MX final:
Club Leon 2, Pachuca 3
Pachuca 0, Club Leon 2