After a sluggish start that saw coach Guillermo Almada scream at his slumbering Tuzos for the opening 10 minutes, Pachuca picked up where it left off Thursday, dominating a game Toluca side.
The irrepressible Tuzos slowly tightened the noose at the back, gradually finding space to move forward and launch volley upon volley at Tiago Volpi, the besieged Diablos Rojos goalie.
Pachuca fired 22 shots at Volpi, eight of which were on target. The “Choriceros” netminder managed to stop five, including a second-half penalty shot.
After failing to get behind a Raúl López screamer in minute 21, Tuzos skipper Oscar Ustari had to face only one other shot and that was a soft header off a corner kick.
Pachuca exerts its will after listless start
Falling behind due to errors by stalwarts Oscar Murillo and Ustari might have shaken the Tuzos out of their doldrums.
Pachuca began to tilt the field toward the Toluca defensive third with winger Romario Ibarra leading charge after charge. Nico Ibáñez and Erick Sánchez saw good scoring chances denied ad the first half ticked down.
Another long possession led to a cross that Jean Meneses deflected off his own arm and ref Adonai Escobedo pointed to the penalty spot. VAR created a 4-minute delay but Escobedo stuck with his call. Unfortunately for the home team, Volpi guessed correctly and got a lunging full-extension save off Ibáñez.
Toluca could not celebrate long because just before the break, Víctor Guzmán bounced a back-side volley through a crowd and the ball ricocheted off the far post and into the net.
Second half just a formality
With the aggregate score at 6-2 as the teams came back out on the field, the only question left unanswered was what the final score would be.
Ibáñez made up for his penalty miss in minute 51, pounding home a perfect pass from Luis Chávez off a set piece from a free kick. Another hard-luck penalty call sent Pachuca’s Gustavo Cabral to the spot and he converted for the 3-1 final score (8-2 aggregate).
By then, the name CF Pachuca was already being engraved on the trophy and the rowdy Estadio Hidalgo crowd was scheming about purchasing the new Tuzos jerseys featuring the franchise’s seventh star.
The title is the first for Pachuca since the Clausura 2016 campaign. Three current Tuzos were members of that championship team, too – Murillo, Guzmán and non-roster player Miguel Herrera.
All hail, Pachuca! Kings of 2022
Pachuca was the class of Liga MX in 2022, avenging their loss in the Clausura 2022 Final (against Atlas) with the dissection of Toluca this past week.
The Tuzos had the best record in the league last season, riding their No. 1 seed to the championship series only to watch Atlas hoist the trophy on their own field. The Apertura 2022 also concluded at Estadio Hidalgo, but this time Pachuca – the No. 4 seed – celebrated in front of their home fans.
Overall, the Tuzos were 21-7-6 in regular-season matches this year, while compiling an 8-2-2 record in the playoffs.
Pachuca erupted for 14 goals in the semifinals and finals, and its 8-2 aggregate victory margin (5-1 at Toluca, 3-1 at home) equals the largest in Liga MX playoff history (Toluca 7, Santos Laguna 1 – Verano 2000 season).
Newly crowned Liga MX champs Erick Sánchez, Luis Chávez and Kevin Álvarez can be excused if they cut short their merrymaking. Al three Tuzos will be reporting to the El Tri World Cup camp in the coming days.