Puebla KO’s Chivas, advances to Liga MX quarterfinals

Liga MX wildcard weekend2

Ayrton Preciado’s game-winning shot came in minute 65, boosting Santos Laguna past Atlético de San Luis in a Liga MX wildcard match. (Photo by Armando Marin/Jam Media/Getty Images)

Puebla snatched a late equalizer then outlasted Chivas in a thrilling penalty shoot-out to advance to the quarterfinals of the Liga MX playoffs on Saturday night. Earlier, Santos Laguna brushed aside Atlético de San Luis, winning the Wildcard Weekend opener 2-0.

Seventh-seeded Puebla overcame a homefield disadvantage (Guadalajara fans outnumbered Camoteros fans inside Estadio Cuauhtémoc) to chase down the Chivas, twice clawing back from one-goal deficits before sending Guadalajara into a winter of turmoil.

Liga MX Wildcard Weekend continues Sunday as No. 11 UNAM visits No. 6 Toluca before No. 8 Cruz Azul hosts No. 9 Monterrey.

The Top 4 seeds – América, Atlas, León and Tigres – are sitting at home this weekend waiting to confirm travel plans ahead of the real tournament, the Liguilla.

Liga MX midget chops down Chivas

Guadalajara twice went up on seventh-seeded Puebla (Isaac Brizuela slotting home from inside the half-moon in minute 6 and Alejandro Mayorga with a back-side header in minute 62), but could not close the deal.

Christian Tabó knotted the score at 1-1 from the penalty spot in minute 20 and second-half sub Lucas Maya flicked home a corner kick in minute 89 to equalize in the nick of time.

The ensuing shoot-out went into sudden death with Puebla prevailing 6-5 after 16 spot kicks. Chivas goalie Raúl Gudiño blocked two Camoteros shots and got his fingertips on two others, but Antony Silva did him one better, knocking aside three Chivas penalty attempts.

Despite having the lowest payroll of the 12 Liga MX playoff teams ($26.2 million dollars), Puebla advances to the quarterfinals against either León or Atlas, while cash-strapped Guadalajara heads into an uncertain winter break desperate to overhaul its underperforming roster.

Chivas are weighted down with the sixth-highest wage bill ($60.3 million dollars) in Liga MX yet managed only the No. 10 seed. The Guadalajara front office would love to pare payroll ahead of the Clausura 2022, but don’t have ready funds to restock for a genuine title chase.

Guerreros 2, Tuneros 0

Ayrton Preciado and Ignacio Geraldino found the net in the second half to send fifth-seeded Santos Laguna into a quarterfinal match-up with No. 4 Tigres.

The Guerreros dominated the Tuneros (58% possession), outshooting the visitors 24-11. If not for some fine work by goalie Marcelo Barovero (5 saves), the game might have been decided earlier.

These two played to a scoreless draw in the season finale, and there were donuts on the scoreboard for more than an hour Saturday night. Then, out of nothing, Santos’ fortunes turned.

Barovero booted a long ball downfield and Guerreros defender Félix Torres turned it back toward midfield as striker Eduardo Aguirre tracked back. “El Mudo” controlled smoothly and immediately slotted a pass down the right channel as Preciado raced past his marker. The speedy Ecuadorian winger barreled in on goal and fired a bullet between Barovero and the near post.

Jeraldino added the clincher from the penalty spot in minute 86, 15 minutes after coming on for Aguirre.