Wednesday’s Copa MX results paved the way for the Chivas to advance to the knockout stage, while Querétaro’s disastrous season continued with a home loss to second division Zacatecas.
Guadalajara is the fourth team to qualify for the Copa MX Round of 16 after the Cimarrones of Sonora held off second-division rival Cafetaleros of Tapachula (Chiapas) in Group 8 action.
Jesús Eleazar Silva scored for the home team in minute 8 and the Cimarrones made the early goal stand up to claim their first Copa win this season. The result left the Cimarrones with 4 points and the Cafetaleros with 3 points, both trailing the Chivas (7 points). The last group match pits the team from Chiapas against Guadalajara which means the Chivas are clear and their focus will be on improving their seeding for the knockout stage.
León 1, Cruz Azul 1
The homestanding Esmeraldas could have virtually clinched Group 5 with a third straight win over the Cementeros, but Cruz Azul was determined to defend its title.
Coach Pedro Caixinha used most of his front-line players, but was again disappointed with an inconsistent and haphazard performance. The Cementeros fell behind in minute 10 thanks to an own goal by right back José Madueña. León’s Jaime Mireles got loose down the right flank and zipped in a low cross that skipped past the two players at the front post. At the back post, Madueña tried to keep the ball from getting to Joel Campbell lurking behind him. Instead, he blocked the ball with his knees and it skimmed off the left post and into the net.
The Cementeros avoided a letdown and continued to press forward, finally getting the equalizer in minute 42. Newcomer Yoshimar Yotún was gifted his first goal with Cruz Azul when his free kick from about 35 meters out on the right flank was deflected by a León defender and arced over goalie William Yarbrough inside the back post.
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The second half featured plenty of back-and-forth action, but neither team could find the net again. The result leaves León on top with 5 points, but they have played their final match. Cruz Azul and the Alebrijes of Oaxaca have 4 points each and the group winner will be decided when they meet in two weeks at Estadio Azteca. Cruz Azul could steal the group with a win despite its unconvincing performances. A draw would result in a 3-way tie at 5 points and then the mathematicians have to figure out who moves into the knockout stage.
In Group 7, the lone second division team (Zacatecas) has a stranglehold on first place. The Mineros only need a tie or a loss by 1 goal at Veracruz to clinch the group after a scoreless draw against Lobos BUAP last night. Zacatecas defeated Veracruz 2-0 in the teams’ first group meeting, but if the Tiburones win by 2 goals they will leapfrog the Mineros and advance to the Round of 16.
In Group 1, Tijuana’s 1-0 win over Atlante knocked the second-division Potros out of the chase and the result helps Pachuca significantly.
Pachuca now only needs a tie at Tijuana to advance. In their first group meeting, the Tuzos edged past the visiting Xolos 2-1. If Tijuana wins, they would earn the Group 1 berth In the knockout stages.
Finally, Querétaro continued its season of despair and coach Rafa Puente, Jr. is hanging onto his job by a thread. If the Gallos Blancos lose at home to the Pumas on Saturday, he is certain to get the boot.
On Wednesday night, Querétaro lost to second division Zacatepec just two weeks after destroying the Cañeros 4-0 in Zacatepec. So Querétaro lost both of its home matches in this season’s Copa MX. Amazingly, the Gallos Blancos are still alive in the group. If the Dorados of Sinaloa defeat Zacatepec next week, then Querétaro could advance with a 3-goal victory over the Dorados on Feb. 20.