Matchday 16: Necaxa's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

Rayos tumble from 5th to 8th in Liga MX table with just one weekend remaining in Clausura 2024
André-Pierre Gignac (left) congratulates Marcelo Flores after the youngster scored a hat trick to lead Tigres past Necaxa in a key Liga MX contest Saturday night.
André-Pierre Gignac (left) congratulates Marcelo Flores after the youngster scored a hat trick to lead Tigres past Necaxa in a key Liga MX contest Saturday night. / Azael Rodriguez/GettyImages

Saturday eveningt was just bad news all around for Necaxa.

The winners of all three 7 p.m. games clinched playoff berths by leap-frogging Necaxa, sending the Rayos tumbling into 8th place and staring at a Play-In game on the road.

Tigres (5th), Pachuca (6th) and Guadalajara (7th) improved to 28 points with their victories, while Necaxa remains at 27 points and could finish the season in 9th place.

“Los electricistas” didn’t help their cause, succumbing to a rampant Tigres second-half comeback in a 5-2 loss. And next weekend’s season finale against Monterrey will find Necaxa as the clear underdog.

Necaxa on wrong side of Liga MX version of Chutes & Ladders

Playing their second game since leading scorer Diber Cambindo suffered a season-ending injury, Necaxa showed it still knows how to play possum. For 45 minutes anyway.

The Rayos’ rope-a-dope defense held up through the first half despite conceding 76% possession to the hosts, but getting more shots on target (3-1) 

Even better, in minute 33 José Paradela found Brian Samudio with space in the right channel, and the Paraguayan winger blasted a 20-meter shot into the far-side netting. Against the run of play, the visiting Rayos were up 1-0.

Just 5 minutes after the restart, however, Fernando Gorriarán and André-Pierre Gignac combined for a golazo that sparked an explosion. 

Gorri fought through tight marking to the left of the box and sent a second-effort cross to the back side where Gignac thundered a shot off the underside of the post from about 10 meters out.

Naaaahhhh pero qué pedazo de gol marcasate André.

Posted by Club Tigres on Saturday, April 20, 2024

The score remained 1-1 for less than 3 minutes. In minute 54, Tigres left winger Marcelo Flores cut inside across the top of the box before patiently picking out the trailing Ozziel Herrera who drilled a low shot inside the left post. 2-1 Tigres.

Just 5 minutes later, Flores made it 3-1 as Herrera returned the favor, cutting a back pass diagonally across the box to the wispy winger, who made no mistake, burying a right-footer past Ezequiel Unsain.

Flores added a second and a third to earn his first Liga MX hat trick. The 20-year-old wunderkind had just 2 goals in 11 contests before Saturday night and 3 career goals in Liga MX after his first 21 games (including two playoff games).

The Tigers faithful applauded their heroes, showering them with affection after a rough two months that has seen “los felinos” dumped out of the Concacaf Champions Cup in a penalty shootout – in “El Volcán,” no less. 

Robert Siboldi’s side had been 0-3-1 in April before Saturday’s prolific performance, and Tigres were 2-1-3 in Liga MX games since the calendar flipped to March. 

Santos Laguna 0, Pachuca 2

Guillermo Almada held out seven starters in Pachuca’s visit to already-eliminated Santos Laguna. The Tuzos’ coach preferred his team be well-rested for Tuesday’s Concacaf Champions Cup semifinal match against league-leading América.

The Tuzos got a much-needed win anyway after Nelson Deossa came off the bench to steal the spotlight, firing home from distance with his trademark left-footed bazooka.

Owen González found the net in minute 90 to secure the win, just Pachuca’s second victory since March 2.

Climbing into 6th place and securing a postseason invitation, the Tuzos can turn their attention to the unenviable task of taking on América in the Concacaf Champions Cup semifinals (April 23 at Estadio Azteca, April 30 on home turf at Estadio Hidalgo).

Guadalajara 2, Querétaro 0

The Chivas will return to the playoffs for an eighth consecutive season after overwhelming a slumping Gallos Blancos side.

“El Rebaño Sagrado” could finish as high as 4th if they win next weekend’s “Clásico Tapatío” and other results fall their way.

Chivas defender Gilberto Sepúlveda nodded home a corner kick in minute 54 to put the home side ahead and Guadalajara’s MVP Roberto Alvarado added the clincher just before the final whistle, his fourth of the Clausura 2024.

As for Querétaro (23 points), they’ll now be playing for their playoff lives next weekend when UNAM (also 23 points) comes to the Estadio Corregidora.


The Gallos Blancos will likely have to defeat the Pumas to get a ticket to the Play-In Tournament. A draw might leave them on the outside looking in, especially as León will be favored to beat FC Juárez and climb to 26 points.