Tigres, Tuzos shoot blanks; Gallos fall to Rebaño Sagrado
The defending champion Tigres hosted Pachuca in a rematch of their thrilling quarterfinals series that ended 2-2 over 180 minutes (with the Tigres advancing as the higher seed). The 0-0 draw keeps Pachuca in the running for one of the final two playoff berths still available.
The host Tigres imposed their will on the game from the outset, controlling tempo and playing keep-away (66% possession), but rarely threatened. When they did, Tuzos goalie Rodrigo Rey was up to the task, making two lunging saves in quick succession in minute 57. Rey made six saves in all.
Finally, as the clock wound down, Pachuca found space in the final third, making repeated thrusts into the box. In minute 85, Erick Aguirre dribbled past two Tigres defenders on the left flank, walked into the box and filtered a perfect square pass to Renato Ibarra at the back post but Ibarra skied the shot.
Seconds after botching a 2-on-1 by flopping in an effort to win a penalty (in minute 89), Franco Jara shot over the bar from 12 meters. Ibarra mishit another sitter a minute later and the game ended in a scoreless draw.
The result leaves the Tigres with 29 points, behind Santos (33), Necaxa (31) and América (31).
Pachuca remains in the chase with 22 points (10th place), but must beat the Pumas next week and hope Tijuana and Monterrey both lose.
Chivas 3, Gallos Blancos 2
At Estadio Akron, the Chivas stomped all over the obituaries that have been written about them the past few weeks, playing a dominating first half against Liguilla-bound Querétaro.
In minute 23, Alexis Vega made a diagonal move toward the box and Jesús Molina hit him with a pass in stride. Vega chest-trapped the ball, then executed a sombrero kick to elude Jimmy Gómez inside the box, and powered home a volley from 15 meters.
Twelve minutes later, the Chivas forced a turnover just outside the box. Isaac Brizuela gathered and fed “Chofis” López who fired a left-footer that beat goalie Gil Alcalá inside the near post. Five minutes after that, Guadalajara turned a sloppy Luis Romo turnover into a fast break with Alan Pulido finding space wide left. The striker did a little stop-and-go move to get inside the box, then fired underneath Alcalá for his 10th goal of the season. Pulido is second behind Quiroha in the scoring race.
The Gallos Blancos made the final score respectable by converting two penalty kicks in added time, but they head into the FIFA break on a three-game winless streak.
Guadalajara moves to 22 points, just 2 points out of eighth place. Chivas coach Luis Fernando Tena is not willing to admit defeat just yet. Plus, the longer they stay in the playoff race, the stronger his case to keep his job.