Atlas maintains ‘Clásico’ bragging rights; Tigres rout Toluca

Atlas forward Julián Quiñones was a constant menace during Thursday night's "Clásico Tapatío." Atlas defeated Guadalajara 1-0. (Photo by Refugio Ruiz/Getty Images)
Atlas forward Julián Quiñones was a constant menace during Thursday night's "Clásico Tapatío." Atlas defeated Guadalajara 1-0. (Photo by Refugio Ruiz/Getty Images) /
Atlas Tigres win
André-Pierre Gignac celebrates after Tigres defeated Toluca in a Liga MX quarterfinals match. Atlas defeated the Chivas earlier Thursday. (Photo by Alfredo Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

Atlas will take a slim 1-0 advantage into the second leg of its quarterfinals match-up against favored Guadalajara after extending its unbeaten streak against the Chivas to seven games (3-4-0) with Thursday night’s victory.

Julián Quiñones provided the lone goal at Estadio Jalisco in a thrilling “Clásico Tapatío” that will be repeated at the Estadio Akron on Sunday.

In Thursday’s other Liga MX quarterfinals series, the Tigres offense finally erupted at “El Volcán” as the northern giants battered the higher-seeded Diablos Rojos of Toluca.

Tigres had not scored more than 2 goals in a game since its 4-2 win against UNAM back on Feb. 11 but youngsters Sebastián Córdova and Diego Lainez turned in inspired performances and “los felinos” will travel to Toluca with a 4-1 cushion.

Atlas draws first blood in ‘Clásico Tapatío’

Atlas had reason to feel aggrieved during the first half after two legitimate appeals for penalty were ignored by Marco Antonio Ortiz. To make matters worse, the official awarded a questionable penalty on behalf of the Chivas when it sure appeared that a check of video replay should have convinced him to overturn his own call.

Instead, Ortiz did not consult the video on any of the three controversial plays.

Fortunately for those who believe in fair play, Atlas goalie Camilo Vargas denied Víctor Guzmán, diving to his left and gobbling up the spot kick in minute 29.

Vargas needed to be on his game in the first half and the Colombian netminder was at his best, stopping 7 Guadalajara shots.

While the Chivas were finishing their plays with shots on goal, Atlas was struggling to find the target.

Jonathan Herrera mishit a volley while unmarked at the back post and Quiñones mishandled passes in the box on more than one occasion. Julio Furch was kept off balance with physical play by central defenders Jesús Orozco and Gilberto Sepúlveda.

But all it took was one play.

In minute 42, Vargas thumped a free kick from just outside his own box and Furch backed his way into position at the edge of the other box. The burly forward headed the ball to the side just as Quiñones dashed past him, he chased down the ball and one-timed it into the net from about 12 meters.

Atlas clamped down the rest of the way (they held their cross-city rivals without a shot on goal for the entire second half). Of course, the win means nothing if the Zorros fail to protect the advantage when the two Guadalajara clubs meet on Sunday. Atlas will advance to the semifinals with a win or a draw while the Chivas must win – by any margin – to make the Final Four.

Tigres rediscover their offense

Toluca seemed poised to take control of the match from the outset, creating scoring chances and keeping Tigres defenders on their heels.

Diablos Rojos striker Carlos González got onto a through ball deep into the box in minute 4 but Tigres goalie Nahuel Guzmán was Johnny-on-the-spot.

Two minutes later, a reckless foul just outside the area gifted former Tigre Leo Fernández a free kick and the diminutive Uruguayan zipped a low shot past the short side of the wall and inside the near post.

Shortly thereafter, Maxi Araujo picked Raymundo Fulgencio’s pocket and he was quickly in alone on Guzmán, but the feisty goalie was up to the task. It would turn out to be a costly miss for Toluca.

Still, it seemed like it would be a long night for Tigres fans. That’s when Córdova and Lainez took charge.

Córdova directed a lengthy, patient build-up move, eventually feeding Lainez wide left and the winger squared into the box right into the path of Córdova who emphatically knocked in the equalizer.

Then things fell apart for the visitors.

González hustled back to help on defense but was too aggressive while pursuing Córdova inside the box and his rash challenge resulted in a penalty that André-Pierre Gignac converted in minute 31.

Just before the half, Juan Pablo Vigón nearly turned the ball over with a careless pass, but he recovered then bumbled and stumbled and battled his way past three Toluca defenders before slotting him inside the far post. A tremendous individual effort and it was 3-1 Tigres.

The second half was just a formality. Lainez made a long, mazy run into the box and dropped off a lovely pass to Gignac but the Frenchman hoofed well over the bar. Gignac had another chance – this one delivered by Fulgencio – but Tiago Volpi smothered the shot at the edge of the 6-yard box.

Nicolás López added the coup de grace in minute 72 after a lengthy Tigres possession that culminated with Fulgencio feeding left back Jesús Angulo on an overlapping run to the touch line. Angulo’s cutback effort was deflected by Volpi, but López was there to bang home the rebound.

Next. No. 2 América rampant; No. 1 Monterrey stagnant. dark

The two teams will meet in Toluca for the return leg on Sunday and the Diablos will have to win by three goals to keep their title hopes alive.