The Esmeraldas set a new league record for consecutive wins while the Rayos of Necaxa continued their push for a playoff berth.
Leon cruised past Puebla 3-0 to earn its 11th win in a row, a new Liga MX record, as MVP candidate Angel Mena recorded a goal and an assist. Captain Luis Montes also supplied an assist and hit the crossbar on one of his first-half shots.
The 11th straight victory surpasses the 10 consecutive wins enjoyed by Cruz Azul in 1971-72. The Cementeros finished that season as the top seed and went on to win the championship, the first of three straight titles under the guidance of legendary coach Raúl Cárdenas.
In Puebla, the Esmeraldas showed why they are sitting atop the table this season, taking control of the match from the outset and running their offense smoothly. At one point late in the match, León has completed 90% of their passes.
The opening goal – in minute 5 – came directly from a terrible diagonal clearance attempt by Néstor Vidrio. The errant pass went right to the dangerous Mena with room to advance toward the box on the right side. He dribbled, hesitated, faked a shot, then blasted a low shot that skipped under goalie Nicolás Vikonis’ outstretched arm and bounced into the net inside the far post.
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Mena was involved in the second goal too (no surprise, since he leads the league in goals AND assists). Right back Fernando Navarro sent Mena free into the box with a lead pass through the right channel and Mena one-timed a cutback pass to the top of the box where Jean Meneses trapped the pass with the outside of his right foot, popping the ball slightly into the air, then swung his right foot, ripping a shot into the upper right corner. Vikonis had absolutely no chance.
Earlier, ref Diego Montaño went to the video screen to review an apparent hand ball by Lucas Cavallini, but the ref decided it was not a penalty (much to the surprise of the TV Azteca announcers). A few minutes after León’s second goal, skipper “Chapo” Montes banged a shot off the top of the crossbar.
In minute 45, Mena got tangled up with Puebla defender Daniel Arriola and as the former had a momentary head lock on the defender, the latter retaliated with an elbow to the groin. Video replay confirmed the aggression and ref Montaño showed the red card to Arriola.
The victory was virtually assured, but León continued to circulate the ball, pressing forward and looking for an extra goal, though not with the same precision they demonstrated in the opening half. They went on to score the clincher in minute 52.
After a series of passes around the top of the box, Luis Montes surveyed the defense then sent a perfectly weighted through-pass into the box as Joel Campbell cut between two defenders. Campbell got to the ball to the right of net and coolly slotted home across the goalie and inside the far post. The León players celebrated as if they’d just won the title; it was the first goal for Campbell since the Costa Rican joined the club a month into the season.
The comfortable lead against a team playing with 10 men allowed coach Nacho Ambriz to get playing time for forwards Rubens Sambueza and Yairo Moreno, both of whom have just come back from long injury absences.
León now has 35 points from 14 games (11-2-1) with a 6-point advantage over the Tigres who visit Lobos BUAP on Sunday.
Atlas 1, Necaxa 2
Fernando González scored before the half and substitute Daniel Álvarez scored after the break for Necaxa, before Anderson Santamaría scored a consolation goal for the host Zorros deep into stoppage time.
With the win, the Rayos momentarily climb from 7 th place into 3 rd place, pending the outcome of the remaining weekend matches.