Necaxa, León eye top playoff seeds behind Santos

Necaxa players celebrate after Mauro Quiroga scored in the first half against Atletico San Luis. (Photo by VICTOR CRUZ/AFP via Getty Images)
Necaxa players celebrate after Mauro Quiroga scored in the first half against Atletico San Luis. (Photo by VICTOR CRUZ/AFP via Getty Images) /
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Only two playoff berths remain unclaimed after a Saturday night that produced 11 goals and a scoreless draw.

Necaxa striker Mauro Quiroga scored his league-leading 12th goal and added an assist to lead the Rayos to a 2-0 win against Atlético San Luis, a loss that officially eliminated the Tuneros. The victory boosted Necaxa to 31 points, just 1 point off its record for a short season. A win at Puebla next week would also clinch the No. 2 seed for the Rayos.

The Rayos are one of six teams that have secured playoff berths with eight teams still in the running for the final two spots, although Cruz Azul must win at first-place Santos Laguna on Sunday afternoon to stay in the race.

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Last season’s top seed, León, climbed from sixth to fourth place after its 4-0 rout of Toluca, while Guadalajara kept playoff dreams alive with a 3-2 win over Querétaro.

Tijuana’s home loss to Monterrey on Friday night had clinched Liguilla spots for the fifth-place Tigres and sixth-place Querétaro but neither impressed on Saturday night. The Tigres battled to their eighth tie of the Apertura, and a second straight scoreless draw, while the Gallos Blancos face-planted in Guadalajara.

León keeps pace with Necaxa

In León, the Esmeraldas leaped over the Tigres and Querétaro, while moving within a point of third-place América by manhandling the visiting Diablos. They also hold an advantage over the Aguilas who must serve a bye on the season’s final matchday.

In minute 22, the home team flooded the Toluca zone flowing left to right when right back Fernando Navarro filtered a cross along the top of the box. Angel Mena made a dummy run taking a defender with him while behind him Jean Meneses received the pass, trapped, turned and fired home with his left foot inside the near post.

Toluca goalie Alfredo Talavera played a devil of a game, making five first-half saves to keep the game close. But he was left stranded by his defense just past the hour mark.

Necaxa Leon move uo
Yairo Moreno exults as his shot beats Toluca goalie Alfredo Talavera to give León a 2-0 lead. (Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

León was probing Toluca’s left flank, looking for space with a three-man-game. Mena spun around, moving to the middle of the field, then chipped a perfectly weighted lead pass to Yairo Moreno streaking down the opposite wing. The left back controlled cleanly and one-timed a shot past Talavera and inside the far post. 2-0 León minute 62.

Seldom-used Iván Ochoa got León’s third off a corner kick eight minutes later. José Juan Macías added a penalty kick – his eighth goal of the season – in minute 82.

With this result, La Fiera climbs into fourth place with clear shot at a top three seed. A win at Tijuana on the final weekend and a Necaxa loss at Puebla would earn the Esmeraldas the No. 2 seed.