MEXICO: Pumas wins seventh title
Javier Cortes started flush on the right flank, just above Morelia's box, with a thicket of defenders separating him from the net. No problem.
The 21-year-old forward's zig-zagging run took him past three of the Monarcas and finished with a tight-angle blast into the goal's ceiling to deliver the Mexican Primera Division's Clausura championship to Pumas UNAM.
Cortes' 77th-minute strike lifted the Mexico City club to a 2-1 triumph -- 3-2 on aggregate over two legs -- and to its seventh title and its fourth since 2004.
Former Chivas USA star Francisco Palencia also tallied for Pumas, converting a 15th-minute penalty kick after Morelia goalkeeper Federico Vilar took down Dante Lopez in the box.
Morelia, which rallied for a 1-1 draw in its home leg Thursday, answered with its own PK 10 minutes later. Jaime Lozano scored it after Miguel Sabah was fouled by goalkeeper Alejandro Palacios.
Cortes' goal, his team-best eighth of the Clausura, was sensational. He beat one defender as he got to the box, dribbled through another a few steps later, then got past Luis Noriega to set up his shot. Vilar had no chance.
The victory sends Pumas, which entered the postseason as the No. 2 seed after leading the Primera Division most of the winter/spring season, into the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League. Morelia must go through a qualifying series with the runner-up from next weekend's Caribbean Championship final four.
Pumas was a semifinalist in the fall Apertura, falling to champion Monterrey. The Cats won a rematch in the first round of the Clausura playoffs, rallying from a 3-1 first-leg deficit, then disposed of Guadalajara to reach the final. They lost just three times in the second season, posting a 13-3-7 record, and were 21-11-12 for the full 2010-11 campaigns.
- PRIMERA DIVISION
CLAUSURA FINAL, FIRST LEG
Morelia 1 (Rojas 73), Pumas UNAM 1 (Palencia 68)
Pumas UNAM 2 (Palencia pen. 15, Cortes 77), Morelia 1 (Lozano pen. 25)
- LIGA DE ASCENSCO
PROMOTION FINAL, FIRST LEG
Irapuato 0, Club Tijuana 0
Club Tijuana 2 (Corona 29, Gerk 32), Irapuato 1 (og Molina 37)
+ Club Tijuana wins on aggregate, 2-1