No. 3 Atlante overcame an early Alebrijes goal to fashion a tie in the first-leg of their quarterfinal series on Thursday night.
After Atlético San Luis and Cimarrones de Sonora played to a scoreless draw, all four first-leg matches in the Ascenso MX Liguilla had resulted in ties, giving the home teams (i.e., the higher seeds) the advantage heading into the weekend’s second-leg games.
In Oaxaca’s Estadio Benito Juárez, Alebrijes striker Flavio Santos was sent through the right channel by a pass from Carlos Rosel, cut inside an Atlante defender then blasted a shot over goalie Gerardo Ruiz before the clock hit the minute mark.
Atlante was knocked on its heels for a while, and Oaxaca rode the momentum to maintain possession but did not create another scoring chance for the remainder of the half. The Potros gradually got their feet back under them and started generating good offense, especially during the final 15 minutes of the half.
Defender Ernesto “Charol” Reyes equalized for Atlante off a set play in minute 37. With a free kick from 35 meters out on the left flank, Reyes trotted away from the ball to the right. Instead of firing a shot toward goal, David Vélez sent a square pass into the path of Reyes who rounded the ball just above the half moon and blasted a right-footer from 25 meters that zipped past Alebrijes keeper Carlos Velázquez just inside the right post.
Feeling more and more comfortable, the visiting Potros continued to find space in the early stages of the second half, moving the ball from side to side and beating the Oaxaca defense with diagonal runs, while raining centering passes into the box. Striker Fernando Fernández just missed connecting on a lofted pass into the box, only managing to scuff the ball wide.
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Right fullback Irving Zurita got forward a few times and he also had a nice scoring chance denied by goalie Velázquez. In minute 73, sub Lizandro Echeverría bungled a clear scoring chance. Zurita got to the tough line then sent in a low cross that was blocked by a Oaxaca defender who only redirected it into the path of Echeverría who was unmarked next to the penalty spot. But Echeverría somehow managed to bang it off the post then helplessly watch it spin left across the goal mouth and roll harmlessly along the end line.
As the clock wound down, Oaxaca began pressing forward hoping to take a lead on the road for Sunday’s second leg match in Cancún. As the Potros scrambled to preserve the tie, they resorted to fouling and this only gave the Alebrijes multiple free kick opportunities. Unfortunately for the home fans, their team could not find the net.
The 6th-seeded Alebrijes lost 2-1 at Atlante on Matchday 5 and Oaxaca went 1-3-4 on the road, but their lone victory was the final game of the regular season last Saturday. Atlante posted a 5-0-1 record at home, its only loss coming on Oct. 5 (a 3-2 loss to San Luis).
In San Luis Potosí, the No. 5 seed Tuneros could not take advantage of their home setting, managing only a 0-0 tie with the No. 4 Cimarrones. The second leg will be played Sunday in Hermosillo at their Estadio Héroe de Nacozari.