Aguilas edge Chivas 2-1, clinch first-round playoff bye

Henry Martín pays tribute to América legend Cuauhtémoc Blanco after scoring against Guadalajara in the Liga MX "Super Clásico." (Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images)
Henry Martín pays tribute to América legend Cuauhtémoc Blanco after scoring against Guadalajara in the Liga MX "Super Clásico." (Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images) /
Liga MX Super Clasico
This Henry Martín penalty kick conversion helped keep América atop the Liga MX table. Martín assisted on América’s second goal in the team’s 2-1 win over the Chivas. (Photo by Agustin Cuevas/Getty Images) /

América scored early in each half and held on for a tense 2-1 triumph over Guadalajara in a Matchday 15 “Super Clásico.”

The win boosted the Aguilas back atop the Liga MX table with a chance to claim the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. “Los AzulCremas” have 35 points from an 11-2-3 record and lead all Liga MX teams with 36 goals scored.

“El Rebaño Sagrado” stumbled for the second straight game and missed out on clinching a home game in the wildcard round.

The Chivas find themselves secure in seventh place with a visit to 11th place Cruz Azul remaining on the schedule.

Aguilas strike quickly

Just 3 minutes in, Henry Martín circled Luis Olivas deep inside the box and the trailing Chivas defender tried to knock the ball away only to clip Martín’s left foot. Martín converted the penalty and América was up before fans had time to take their first sip of cerveza.

Chivas goalie Miguel Jiménez made two splendid saves to prevent the Aguilas from increasing their lead.

Alexis Vega nearly equalized in minute 11 when his free kick from 30 meters zipped just past the upper right corner.

Six minutes after the restart, Alejandro Zendejas added to América’s lead. Right back Emilio Lara lofted a long cross into the box, Henry Martín rose up to head the ball back to Zendejas who had time to trap and line up his shot. Jiménez had no chance.

In minute 55, Mexico and América goalie “Memo” Ochoa prevented a sure goal, swatting away a header from Sergio Flores that appeared destined for the back of the net. The save was confirmed by a VAR check.

In minute 61, the Chivas narrowed the gap when Christián Calderón – fresh off the bench – shook free from his marker on the back side and scooped home from close range. The goal came from a free kick that was deflected front side by América defender Sebastián Cáceres and Lara did not keep sontact with “Chicote” and it was 2-1 with a half-hour yet to play.

Try as they might, Guadalajara could not find the equalizer. América nearly made it 3-1 in minute 83 but Federico Viñas’ header from close range clanged off the crossbar.

Elsewhere in Liga MX …

Monterrey kept pace with the league leaders, getting two late goals to subdue a valiant challenge from visiting Atlas.

Defenders Sebastián Vegas (minute 79) and Jesús Gallardo (83’) were the scorers for the Rayados who now have 34 points after 16 matches (10-4-2).

With the win, Monterrey clinched a Top 4 finish and a first-round bye in the Liga MX playoffs. The Rayados now also boast the stingiest defense in Liga MX, conceding just 13 goals with one game remaining.

Atlas, the two-time defending Liga MX champs, will miss out on the postseason and fell to 2-4-9. Their 10 points has them in 17th place, pending the outcome of Querétaro’s match Sunday in León. The Gallos Blancos can climb out of the Liga MX basement with a draw or a win.

Next. Barcelona rebound from Bayern Munich loss. dark

The Liga MX calendar features four additional Sunday contests. Cruz Azul visits crosstown rivals UNAM, Santos Laguna hosts FC Juárez, Pachuca is at Atlético de San Luis and Necaxa travels to Tijuana.