Two spots remain to complete Final Four line-up

The Clásico Tapatío is the highlight of the Liga MX quarterfinals. Defending champion Atlas leads Guadalajara 2-1 entering the second leg. (Photo by ULISES RUIZ/AFP via Getty Images)
The Clásico Tapatío is the highlight of the Liga MX quarterfinals. Defending champion Atlas leads Guadalajara 2-1 entering the second leg. (Photo by ULISES RUIZ/AFP via Getty Images) /
Liga MX quarters, day 4
Cruz Azul must try to haul back the Tigres in their Liga MX quarterfinal match. The Cementeros have to win by two goals to advance. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images) /

No. 1 Pachuca and No. 4 América are through to the Liga MX semifinals after fending off big challenges from a pair of feisty underdogs.

The remaining members of the “Liguilla” Final Four will be revealed Sunday night when No. 3 Tigres tries to protect a 1-0 first-leg advantage against the eighth-seeded Cementeros of Cruz Azul, while the other semifinal participant will emerge from “Clásico Tapatío” that has No. 3 Atlas hosting No. 6 Guadalajara. The visiting Zorros defeated the Chivas 2-1 in the first leg.

The top-seeded Tuzos staved off an Atlético de San Luis upset bid thanks to a brace from Nico Ibáñez who scored four times in two games against his old club. The 10th-seeded Tuneros twice erased one-goal deficits but were always playing from behind.

At Estadio Azteca, the host Aguilas benefited from a controversial VAR ruling that allowed América to retake a penalty that Puebla keeper Antony Silva had parried away. Ref Fernando Guerrero indicated Silva had prematurely left his line (video evidence supported the call, in super slow motion) and Diego Valdés made no mistake the second time. That broke a 1-1 tie, América extended the lead (Alejandro Zendejas, 73’) and Puebla converted a penalty kick in stoppage time for the final 3-2 score.

Guadalajara Derby is highlight of Liga MX quarterfinals

The Chivas trudged off their own Estadio Akron pitch with its five-game win streak terminated. And it wasn’t just any loss; it was a loss to crosstown rivals Atlas, the defending Liga MX champs.

Now Ricardo Cadena must restore confidence in the Guadalajara locker room because the Goats have to defeat the Zorros by at least two goals to knock the crown off their rival’s head. The “Clásico Tapatío” kicks off at 6 pm local time at Estadio Jalisco.

Getting two past Atlas keeper Camilo Vargas will be no easy task as the Zorros have conceded two goals just twice this season (4-2 Matchday 16 win at Toluca and a 2-0 loss at Tijuana on Matchday 7).

“El Rebaño Sagrado” must focus on the task at hand and get past concerns about ref Fernando Hernández. The last Chivas game Hernández called was back on Matchday 7 against Puebla, a game Guadalajara lost thanks to a controversial no-call despite assistance from VAR after which Alexis Vega was red-carded for objecting to the decision.

Tigres have Cementeros on the ropes

Even without the combustible Miguel Herrera on the sidelines (“El Piojo” was ejected in the second half of Thursday’s game in Estadio Azteca when he lost his cool even before a VAR judgement had been rendered), the host Tigres are favored to brush past Cruz Azul and qualify for the Liga MX semifinals.

André-Pierre Gignac and Gang are poised to exploit a Cementeros side that must push forward in search of at least two goals. After losing the first leg 1-0, the lower-seeded “Celestes” must win by two to reach the Final Four.

“La Máquina” has not scored more than one goal in a Liga MX match since March 14 (2-1 over UNAM on Matchday 10) and coach Juan Reynoso has had little success discovering an effective attacking line-up. His mixing and matching has been woefully ineffective, such that his seat on the Cruz Azul bench is precarious just one year after he led the Cementeros to a Liga MX title.

Next. Final Liga MX Power Rankings. dark

The Tigres-Cementeros match is scheduled for 8:05 pm local time. In charge of the match at the always raucous “El Volcán” will be veteran official César Ramos.