The No. 7 seed Dorados knocked favored Zacatecas out of the playoffs while No. 1 seed Juárez struggled to overcome the feisty Leones Negroes.
With Diego Maradona watching from the box seats, the Dorados of Sinaloa upset the No. 2 seed Mineros of Zacatecas to move into the Ascenso MX semifinals. Maradona was shown a red card after the first leg in Culiacán for insulting the referee. He spent most of the second half of that match screaming at the officials and after the final whistle marched out to the middle of the pitch to give the ref a piece of his mind.
On the field in Zacatecas, Dorados forward Vinicio Angulo powered home a soaring header in minute 65 and the visiting Dorados made the goal stand up after a scoreless draw in the first-leg match.
The “Golden Fish” were helped by the fact that Éder Cruz was ejected immediately after the goal as the result of a skirmish with Edson Rivera. Cruz head-butted Rivera then smacked with a back-handed slap to the face, forcing the Mineros to play the final 25 minutes short-handed.
In minute 8, Jorge Córdoba made his presence felt after he missed the first match due to a red card he’d received in the final regular season game. The Dorados striker got his head on a free kick just in front of goal but Mineros goalie Sebastian Fassi tipped it over the crossbar.
Angulo and Raúl Martín Sandoval also had first-half scoring opportunities but the best chance at a goal came from a 25-meter blast by Alonso Escoboza in minute 44 that just missed wide.
In the second half, the Mineros finally were able to generate some offense but failed to test goalie Gaspar Servio. At the other end, Angulo rose over his marker for a header in minute 62 but Fassi got his mitts on the ball to preserve the shut-out.
Three minutes later, Angulo got behind the defense on the back side and raced onto a long, lead pass into the box. The Ecuadorian met the ball with his forehead and drove it downwards toward the opposite post, out of reach of the lunging Fassi.
Despite being a man down, Zacatecas managed to create a series of corner kicks and free kicks in the final 15 minutes. The best chance came to Roberto Nurse, the league’s leading scorer. His header from 8 feet was blocked by Servio.
In minute 82, the Mineros appeared to have claim for a penalty when Guillermo Martínez was wrestled to the ground in the box during a corner kick. However, replays were inconclusive in that they seemed to show that Martínez had grabbed Jorge Córdoba as he tried to get past him and Córdoba held on, taking him to the ground.
The Dorados next face No. 1 seed Juárez who slipped past the No. 8 seed Leones Negros in their quarterfinal series.
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- Ascenso MX teams win two, tie one vs Liga MX
The heavily favored Bravos hosted the Leones Negros in Estadio Olímpico Benito Juárez after a 1-1 draw in Guadalajara in the first leg.
Saturday night’s match had a similar plot line. The underdog Leones Negros scored first and Juárez striker Leandro Carrijo equalized in the final 20 minutes.
In the second leg, Luis Télles scored in minute 55 and Carrijo tied the match in minute 74.
Carrijo had forced a diving save from Felipe López in minute 8. Mauro Fernández had a 1-on-1 opportunity for Juárez in minute 10 but was denied by López. Carrijo and Fernández were constant threats throughout the first half, but failed to find the net.
Their best first-half chance came off a nifty give-and-go started with a Carrijo pass to Fernández whose pass to Lucas da Silva was returned, sending Fernández into the box but his right-footed blast was punched aside by López. Then Juárez defender Elio Castro just missed heading home a corner kick in minute 36.
The Leones Negros also created offense, finding space in their offensive half, but never testing Bravos keeper Enrique Palos. Winger Joao dos Santos came closest just before the halftime whistle when he fired a low shot through a crows only to see it skim past the far post.
Five minutes after the restart, Carrijo mishit a volley at the near post that should have been a goal. Five minutes later, the Leones Negros were on the scoreboard.
The visitors took a free kick from wide left of the goal that was deflected by the defense but the ball bounded across the top of the box to the back side where Télles was unmarked. His low blast zipped inside the far post and the underdogs were 35 minutes from a stunning upset.
Fifteen minutes later, left fullback Magno Andrade made an overlapping run, dribbled to the touchline and lofted a centering pass back toward the penalty spot. There he found Carrijo who headed past López at the back post to knot the score.
In minute 82, Carrijo sent Gabriel Hachen ahead of the defense and he chipped over the onrushing goalie but Leones Negros fullback Néstor Vidrio raced back to head the ball off his goal line.
The game ended 1-1 with Juárez advancing based on its better regular-season record.
Atlante hosts the Alebrijes of Oaxaca and the Cimarrones of Sonora host Atlético San Luis in the remaining quarterfinal matches.