Diablos Rojos secure No. 4 playoff seed with easy win over Necaxa

Toluca Necaxa M17

Necaxa players crowd around Toluca goalie Tiago Volpi (No. 1) after he converted a penalty kick to make the score 3-0. Fernando Navarro, Leo Fernández and Jean Meneses step in to escort Volpi out of trouble. (Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images)

An oh-so-casual 3-0 win over visiting Necaxa earned Toluca the No. 4 seed and a first-round bye in the Liga MX playoffs.

“Los choriceros” converted two penalty kicks, the second a cheeky Panenka by Toluca goalie Tiago Volpi that drew the ire of a few Rayos players. Volpi leads all Liga MX goalies with 3 goals this season.

The victory boosted the Diablos Rojos to 32 points (9-5-3) and the team’s 34 goals are third most in Liga MX. Second-place América (36 goals) and top-seeded Monterrey (35) are the only clubs with more.

As the No. 4 seed, Toluca will face the highest-seeded survivor of Wildcard Weekend – potentially Pachuca, León or Tigres, all three of whom will be formidable quarterfinals opponents.

Toluca looks to go one better this season

The Red Devils didn’t close out their Clausura 2023 schedule very effectively, costing themselves the No. 2 seed.

A 3-1 loss to Pumas on Matchday 15 was followed by a 1-1 draw at home against FC Juárez. Neither of those teams made the playoffs.

Those stumbles allowed surging América and Guadalajara to pass the Diablos in the standings.

Ignacio Ambriz will be pleased with the smooth performance of his men (Toluca enjoyed 61% of possession), and Volpi showed he’s more than a scoring threat. The Brazilian raced to cover his back post and made a lunging save off a Necaxa header to keep his sheet clean.

The Diablos defense did their part, limiting the Rayos to just 3 shots on goal. And Ambriz will be pleased that Leo Fernández was able to give him 75 minutes. The Diablos won’t last too long in the playoffs if the little Uruguayan is not making plays.

As its it, Toluca now has a week-and-a-half to rest and rehab before beginning their quest to return to the Liga MX Finals. With a better result this time, of course. The Diablos will learn who their quarterfinal opponent will be after Wildcard Weekend.

Later today, Pachuca (28 points) visits Querétaro and León (27 points) hosts Tigres (25 points) in the final two games of Matchday 17. Those results will determine the Nos. 5, 6 and 7 seeds.