Liga MX schedule-makers provided fans with a busy Sunday and four of the five games featured teams making late-season bids to qualify for the playoffs.
There was drama aplenty as Cruz Azul and León made sure their final games have meaning, while Atlético de San Luis, FC Juárez and Tijuana saw their postseason plans slightly derailed.
Third-place Pachuca came up with 3 huge road points to clinch a first-round bye in the Liga MX playoffs, while playoff-bound Santos Laguna eased past FC Juárez to hold firm to fourth place.
In Sunday’s first game, Cruz Azul’s scrappy victory at UNAM lifted the Cementeros into 9th place and left the Pumas floundering in 16th.
Quintuple-header brings Matchday 15 to a close
Tijuana played Necaxa to a listless 1-1 draw that kept the visiting Rayos in possession of the 12th and final playoff spot. Necaxa also benefits from having a game in hand but that contest Thursday (vs. 14th-place Mazatlán) is a must-win for both teams.
Pachuca’s 2-1 win in San Luis boosted the Tuzos to 31 points (9-4-3) and will allow last season’s losing finalist to rest on Wildcard Weekend. Nico Ibánez and Avilés Hurtado were the goal-scorers. Ibáñez’s goal was his 11th of the season, tops in the race for the Liga MX Golden Boot.
An efficient Santos Laguna side kept visiting FC Juárez at bay to stick in 4th place (30 points), while the Bravos must defeat a desperate Pumas team on Matchday 17 then hope four other results go their way.
The losses by Atlético de San Luis and FC Juárez allowed Guadalajara to clinch a playoff berth, the seventh Liga MX club to get an invitation, joining América, Monterrey, Pachuca, Santos, Tigres and Toluca.
León keeps thin Liga MX title hopes alive
León’s 3-1 home win over last-place Querétaro lifted “La Fiera” into 8th place and moved them within a point of clinching a playoff berth.
Lucas Di Yorio – the Esmeraldas’ top scorer on the season (7 goals) – found the back of the net less than a minute after the opening whistle, banging home a nice assist from Víctor Dávila. The Gallos Blancos tied it up in minute 15 but Dávila answered with a golazo 7 minutes later.
Yairo Moreno blasted home the clincher in stoppage time as León improved its record to 6-3-7 (21 points).
Querétaro, already eliminated from playoff contention, extended an ignominious winless streak. The Gallos Blancos have not won a road game since Feb. 16, 2020. They’ve now gone 45 games away from home without a victory. That last road win – 3-2 over Necaxa at Estadio Victoria – came in Matchday 6 of the Clausura 2020. Oh, and Víctor Manuel Vucetich was the Querétaro coach then.
The Gallos can be found roosting in the Liga MX cellar with an embarrassing 1-6-9 record.