Chivas Edge Past Toluca to Reach the Final Four

Third-seeded Toluca bowed out of the Clausura playoffs after narrowly failing to overcome the challenge of Chivas.
Toluca v Chivas - Playoffs Torneo Clausura 2024 Liga MX
Toluca v Chivas - Playoffs Torneo Clausura 2024 Liga MX / Manuel Velasquez/GettyImages

In the first round of the Clausura playoffs, two of Mexico's most successful clubs clashed, with Chivas Guadalajara, 12-time champions, doing what was necessary to secure their place in the next round.

In a tense and tightly contested first leg on Wednesday 8th May, neither side was willing to concede ground easily. However, Chivas managed to seize the advantage with a late winner in the 86' minute from Víctor Guzmán. This crucial goal gave Los Rojiblancos the confidence boost they needed as they headed to Toluca for the away leg.

Chivas thought they broke the deadlock earlier in the game when an inch-perfect looping ball from Érick Gutiérrez found its way to Pável Pérez, who forced the ball into the Toluca net, with a helping hand from Toluca defender Carlos Orrantia. However, the VAR replays showed that Pérez used his arms to bring the ball down. As such, the goal was disallowed and Orrantia could blow a sight of relief.

Four minutes from time and Chivas grabbed their winner, capitalising from a poorly attempted catch from Toluca goalkeeper Tiago Volpi. Failing to catch the in-swinging cross, the ball fell to Guzmán who struck a first time volley to set the Chivas fans off inside the Estadio Akron.

Turning the attention to the second leg in Toluca; the game played changed completely for the home side. Toluca recorded just three shots during the first leg in Guadalajara, but this time around had 22 efforts on goal, with seven on target.

Whilst the regular season third seed side had the confidence and belief that they could overturn the first leg deficit, things were made more difficult on the hour mark when Brian Garcia was handed a straight red card. Garcia went in for a 50-50 challenge with Chivas midfielder Fernando Beltran, but after stamping on Beltran's leg, the referee was given no choice but to send the Toluca defender to the stands.

Toluca continued to pile on the pressure, despite the man advantage. In the 80' minute, they believed they had an equalising goal when Alexis Vega cut inside onto his left foot and slotted the ball into the back of the net. Running away in jubilation, celebrations were short-lived when replays showed that Vega timed his run too early and was offside.

That would prove to be Toluca's last major effort in the game, where they had previously hit the post and forced Chivas 'keeper Jose Rangel into some good saves.

Nonetheless, Chivas secured their place for the final four. Despite fighting hard, Toluca's campaign comes to an early and disappointing end. The result of this means that Los Rojiblancos will face Club América in an El Clásico de Clásicos semi final. The two faced each other last season in the semi final stage, where Chivas secured a shock win at the Azteca to reach the final.