MEXICO: Top seeds move on
The No. 1 seed in Mexico's Primera Division playoffs had failed to advance from the quarterfinals in 13 of 20 postseasons, seven of nine and the last four in a row. Santos Laguna failed to follow form.
The Torreon-based Guerreros advanced to the semifinals Sunday, finishing off a 6-4 aggregate victory over Jaguares de Chiapas, and No. 2 Monterrey and No. 3 America joined them.
The only upset: UANL Tigres toppling fourth-seeded Morelia in the other opening series. And calling it an upset is gross exaggeration. Tigres, the No. 5 seed, won the Apertura title last fall and was in the top three most of the current Clausura season.
Santos will meet Tigres and Monterrey takes on America in two-leg series that begin Tuesday and Wednesday and conclude next weekend.
Here's a quick look at the Mexican playoffs:
- THE WINNERS
Santos Laguna: The Guerreros pulled out a wild first leg in Tuxtla Gutierrez, posting a 4-3 victory when Carlos Quintero tallied five minutes into stoppage. Jaguares pulled even at the start of Sunday's second leg, but Quintero answered quickly and Oribe Peralta's second goal of the series finished off a 2-1 win. This is the fifth time in six seasons Santos has reached the final four, moving on to the final the last three times it has done so.Monterrey: The Rayados needed a 65th-minute header from Jose Maria Basanta on Saturday to claim a 2-2 draw in the second leg against Club Tijuana and win the series, 4-3, on aggregate. Had it finished 3-3, Monterrey would have advanced as the higher seed, so it wasn't quite as dramatic as it might otherwise be. Monterrey won in Tijuana, 2-1, on Wednesday as Angel Reyna set up Jesus Zavala and then added a goal of his own.
America: The Aguilas held on for a 3-2 aggregate victory over Pachuca after scoring the first three goals in Wednesday's first leg, on the road, with Christian “Hobbit” Bermudez netting a pair. Nestor Vidrio's goal gave the Tuzos a 1-0 win at Azteca on Saturday, but another goal wouldn't have been enough, because America was the higher seed. The teams will meet again in a July 7 friendly in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Tigres: Hector Mancilla's first-half goal gave the suburban Monterrey club a 1-0 lead heading into Sunday's second leg, and Tigres scored four goals in the final 27 minutes for a 4-1 romp Sunday over Morelia to ease into the final four. The first leg caused some controversy when it was scheduled opposite a presidential debate, and Mexican electoral officials criticized television networks that chose to show the match rather than the candidates.
- LIGA DE ASCENSO
Leon: The Esmeraldas crushed Lobos BUAP, 4-0, in the second leg of the second-tier final after a 3-3 draw in the opener to win the Clausura title. Leon will meet Apertura champion UAT Correcaminos this week, and the victor will be promoted to the Primera Division.