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MEXICO: Monterrey holds off Pachuca, is favorite

Monterrey assumed the role as favorite in Mexico's Primera Division playoffs after holding off visiting Pachuca on Sunday in a wild quarterfinal second leg.

Humberto Suazo, Aldo de Nigris and Neri Cardozo scored goals, and the second-seeded Rayados settled for a 3-3 draw -- leaving aggregate at 4-4. Monterrey advanced as the higher seed to a semifinal showdown with Pumas UNAM.

Santos Laguna also reached the final four, outlasting Jaguares, 1-0, for a 2-1 aggregate triumph. The No. 3 seed was set for a series with America before Juan Pablo Rodriguez's penalty kick deep into second-half stoppage.

Monterrey, which is the highest remaining seed after No. 1 Cruz Azul's defeat Saturday against Pumas, won the Apertura title last fall and posted the best record in the spring Clausura earlier this year. Pachuca pulled the first round upset in May, twice beating the Rayados to reach the semifinals.

The Tuzos appeared finished after Monterrey jumped to a 3-1 lead after 57 minutes, but Faustino Arizala, who scored their goal in Thursday's 1-1 draw in Pachuca, finished off a headed hat trick with goals in the 84th and 89th minutes. Monterrey held on for four minutes of stoppage to advance.

Former Galaxy star Herculez Gomez set up the third of Arizala's goals.

Gomez, who joined Pachuca over the summer after scoring 10 goals last spring for Puebla, has been targeted by UANL Tigres, Spanish-language Web site Medio Tiempo reported. Club vice president Andres Fassi said he would be in contact with the Monterrey-area club about the Los Angeles-born forward, who is slated to play for the Tuzos in next month's FIFA Club World Cup in Dubai. Jonathan Bornstein (Los Alamitos/Los Alamitos HS and UCLA) will join Tigres from Chivas USA in January.

LIGA DE ASCENSO: The last of the higher seeds in action during the second-tier Liga de Ascenso quarterfinals is out. Veracruz rode an early goal by Guillermo Rojas to oust fourth-seeded Lobos BUAP, a 1-0 road victory Sunday providing a 2-1 aggregate triumph.

Second-seeded Indios de Ciudad Juarez and third-seeded Alacranes de Durango were eliminated Saturday. Top seed Club Tijuana received a bye into the semifinals and will begin its playoff trek Wednesday at Albinegros de Orizaba. The home leg is tentative scheduled for Saturday at Estadio Caliente.

  • PRIMERA DIVISION

QUARTERFINALS, SECOND LEG

Sunday

Monterrey 3 (Suazo 19, de Nigris 37, Cardozo 57), Pachuca 3 (Arizala 26, 84, 89)

Santos Laguna 1 (J. Rodriguez pen. 95+), Jaguares de Chiapas 0

SEMIFINALS, FIRST LEG

Wednesday

Santos Laguna at America, 5 p.m.

Thursday

Monterrey at Pumas UNAM, 7 p.m.

SEMIFINALS, SECOND LEG

Saturday

America at Santos Laguna, 4 p.m.

Sunday

Pumas UNAM at Monterrey, 2 p.m.

  • LIGA DE ASCENSO

QUARTERFINALS, SECOND LEG

Sunday

Lobos BUAP 0, Veracruz 1 (G. Rojas 12)

SEMIFINALS, FIRST LEG

Wednesday

Club Tijuana at Albinegros de Orizaba, time TBA

Thursday

Veracruz at Irapuato, time TBA

SEMIFINALS, SECOND LEG

Saturday

Albinegros de Orizaba at Club Tijuana, time TBA

Sunday

Irapuato at Veracruz, time TBA