Pachuca is 1st Liga MX team eliminated from Concachampions

Luis Chavez of Pachuca reacts after the Liga MX champs were eliminated from the Concacaf Champions League at home on Thursday. (Photo by Jaime Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images)
Luis Chavez of Pachuca reacts after the Liga MX champs were eliminated from the Concacaf Champions League at home on Thursday. (Photo by Jaime Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /
Liga MX CCL Pachuca
Motagua players celebrate after eliminating Liga MX champs Pachuca in a Concachampions Round of 16 series. (Photo by Jaime Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

Liga MX champs Pachuca turned in an underwhelming performance against Motagua and was rewarded with elimination from the Concacaf Champions League.

Eddie Hernández converted a late penalty to forge a 1-1 tie which sent the Honduran club through to the quarterfinals where they’ll face Tigres. Motagua advanced on the away-goal rule after the two teams played to a scoreless draw in San Pedro Sula.

The Tuzos dominated possession but sloppy play in the offensive third doomed the heavily favored Mexican club. Pachuca took 34 shots but very few troubled back-up goalie Marlon Licona who was credited with 7 saves.

An increasingly agitated Guillermo Almada watched his club fail to create chances in the first half, then squander opportunities in the second half when the Tuzos attack improved.

Liga MX champs must now turn focus to title defense

New acquisition “Chicho” Arango was given his first start up front, but was wholly ineffective. Playmaker “Chofis” López was off his game too, often too late in reacting to pressure and mishit a header in the first half that would have opened the scoring.

Pachuca has struggled to generate offense since trading away reigning Liga MX Golden Boot winner Nico Ibánez early in the season. As a result, some players are trying to do too much and straying from what made them successful and this often messes up team spacing and allows for counterattacks.

Almada changed out his attacking trident around the hour mark and the Tuzos responded, spending considerable time in and around the Motagua box. In minute 73, Ilian Hernández got his head on a “Fideo” Figueroa cross and nodded it just inside the far post.

Pachuca pressed forward for another and in so doing opened themselves up to a counter attack that they covered poorly.

Kevin Álvarez was slow to chase back and Eddie Hernández was able to make a backheel pass from the touchline to an unmarked Carlos Mejía (Avilés Hurtado did not cover his man). Mejía sent in a low cross to Roberto Moreira and defender Oscar Murillo clipped him (barely) as he slid in to block the shot. Iván Cisneros blew his whistle and pointed to the spot.

The Tuzos can now turn their attention to defending their Liga MX title, but they’ll need to solve their offensive woes if they hope to reach their third Final in a row.

León is third Mexican club to make quarters

Brian Rubio and Elías Hernández scored first-half goals to lead the Esmeraldas to an easy 2-0 victory over Panamanian club Tauro.

León dominated on the field and in the stats book. The Liga MX side enjoyed 67 percent possession and outshot the visitors 25-2. Thanks to the obvious superiority, coach Nicolás Larcamón was able to rest some of his starters ahead of Sunday’s match against Santos Laguna.

Next. Red-hot Rayados extend Liga MX lead. dark

Thursday’s result in the Camp Nou made for a 3-0 aggregate win for “La Fiera” who move on to face Haiti’s Violette in the CCL quarterfinals. The Green Machine joins Tigres and Atlas in the Elite Eight of the Concachampions tournament.