Entering the weekend, 13 teams were in the running for the remaining 6 postseason berths. Monterrey claimed a playoff spot, while the Pumas and Chivas were eliminated.
Last weekend, title contenders Cruz Azul and América played to a scoreless draw allowing Necaxa and Pachuca to leapfrog them into fourth and fifth place, respectively.
This weekend, Pachuca and Necaxa settled for a 2-2 tie and Cruz Azul promptly climbed over both back into fourth place. If América defeats Toluca Sunday, the Aguilas will be fifth, Necaxa sixth and Pachuca seventh.
On Friday night, Monterrey eked past last-place Veracruz with a second-choice line-up. Leonel Vangioni’s goal gave the Rayados a 1-0 win, clinching a playoff spot and moving within 4 points of the second place Tigres, whose 3-3 tie against visiting Morelia on Satutday night keeps the race for the No. 2 seed alive for another week.
The Tigres (33 points) and Rayados (29 points) preferred rest for many regulars ahead of their Tuesday night clash in the Concacaf Champions League Final. The Tigres will host the first-leg match.
At the top of the table, León overwhelmed Atlas to earn a 12th consecutive win as MVP candidate Angel Mena upped his league-best goal tally to 14 with a brace against the Zorros. William Tesillo, José Juan Macías and Luis Montes also got on the scoreboard as the Esmeraldas now have 38 points from 15 games, a 5-point cushion over the Tigres.
Necaxa 2, Pachuca 2
Eduardo Herrera scored just after halftime to give the Rayos a 2-1 lead, but Necaxa defender Ventura Alvarado picked up a red card in minute 56 after a reckless tackle. Pachuca started to flood their offensive zone, forcing Necaxa goalie Hugo González to stand up tall between the pipes. And he did so until minute 71 when Jaine Barreiro rose above his marker and powered a header at the feet of González that the Rayos keeper could not keep from trickling over the line.
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The visiting Tuzos appeared close to getting the winner until the Rayos regained their equilibrium. Suddenly, Necaxa was pressing forward with quick counters and finding space. Ángel Sepulveda blazed a shot from distance that just missed wide. The Brian Fernández found the back of the net only to see the game-winner waved off for offside. It was the third time Necaxa saw a goal annulled.
The Rayos and Tuzos now sit at 25 points and both look like deserving playoff teams, but Pachuca will rue its failure to claim all 3 points after having a man advantage for 35 minutes. The Tuzos have yet to win on the road this season, going 0-4-4 in 8 away games. They finish the season at top-seeded León and might need a point or more to clinch a spot in the Liguilla.
Guadalajara 1, Puebla 3
The visiting Camoteros crawled over Tijuana into eighth place with this win over the hapless Chivas. Guadalajara opened the scoring in minute 20 thanks to an own goal by Puebla defender Brayan Angulo. But Angulo responded by scoring twice before halftime and Matías Alustiza blasted home the clincher only 4 minutes after halftime.
The Chivas sank deeper into oblivion and were booed off the pitch by the home fans at halftime as well as at the final whistle. Guadalajara has only 1 point in its last eight games (24 points available), a streak of ineptitude never before experienced by this storied franchise. It might only get worse since the Chivas host León next Saturday.
The loss officially knocked the Chivas out of postseason contention, making the Clausura 2019 the fourth straight tournament without a playoff berth.
Cruz Azul 2, UNAM 1
Milton Caraglio scored twice after Pumas midfielder was ejected in minute 39 and the Cementeros took a giant leap toward reaching the Liguilla for the second straight season. The loss eliminates the Pumas as they continued their downward path after getting wiped out 6-1 by América in the semifinals last season.
Caraglio has now scored 6 goals for Cruz Azul in the past five games and is fourth in the league with 9 goals.
Tijuana 1, Lobos BUAP 2
The Xolos suffered only their second home loss but they still control their own playoff destiny. Tijuana closes the season at Puebla and a victory at Estadio Cuauhtémoc on Matchday 17 could be enough to earn a playoff ticket.
Gustavo Bou scored in minute 4 but Leo Ramos returned from a lengthy injury absence to score twice for the Lobos. The upstart Lobos climbed to 20 points with the win, only 2 behind Tijuana and 3 behind eighth-place Puebla, but they’ll need to defeat Cruz Azul and Toluca in their final two games to get an invite to the Liguilla.