By DANIEL PRICE
For the first time since the 2009 Clausura, Pachuca have made it to the Liga MX finals.
Santos Laguna exited the Liguilla after being unable to overturn Pachuca’s first leg advantage on Saturday evening. Pachuca won their home match 2-0, and secured their progress with two away goals, despite being beaten 4-2. It is the second time in this season’s Liguilla that the controversial away goals rule has allowed a team with a low seeding to overturn their opponents of higher rank.
Diego de Buen and Hugo Rodríguez secured Pachuca’s first-leg win, but Santos got the first goal of the second leg to put the outcome in the balance. Rafael Figuero scored after only 10 minutes.
Drama followed when Santos goalkeeper Oswaldo Sánchez was shown a straight red card, and Pachuca took advantage of the extra man to turn the game round before the interval. Enner Valencia grabbed the first after half an hour, before Dieter Villalpando Pérez added the second on the stroke of half time.
The referee made it 10 on 10 when he sent off Pachuca’s Walter Ayovi after an hour and Santos tried to take their chance. A penalty from Juan Pablo Rodriguez and further goals Javier Orozco and Rafael Figueroa put Santos within one goal of an unlikely comeback, but ultimately they ran out of time and were eliminated.
Pachuca will play Leon in the final. Here’s a look at the other semifinal:
LEON WIN TO BOOK SECOND FINAL IN SIX MONTHS
Toluca can add Liguilla heartache to their CONCACAF disappointment after losing 2-0 on aggregate to Club Leon.
Leon were the better team in a first leg that saw goalkeepers dominate the headlines. El Tri’s third-choice keeper Talavera left injured, but his replacement performed admirably for 70 minutes. Leon won 1-0 thanks to Luis Montes, but the score would have been higher if it weren’t for the excellent performances from both Yarbrough and substitute Lozano.
Pena scored a wonderful lobbed goal in the second leg on Sunday to book Leon’s place in the next round. After receiving a difficult ball from Hernandez he showed great composure to lift the ball over Talavera from 12 yards.
The away goal meant Toluca needed to score three, but after a long season they couldn’t find a last piece of magic. The two 1-0 defeats mean the sides who finished both first and second in the regular season have been eliminated by Leon.
Here’s a full look at all the results from the Liga MX quarterfinals:
Pachuca 2, Santos Laguna 0
Club Leon 1, Toluca 0
Santos Laguna 4, Pachuca 2
Toluca 0, Club Leon 1