UANL Tigres and Pumas UNAM dominated the Mexican Primera Division's winter/spring Clausura tournament. Both will need miracles to remain in contention for the title.
Top-seeded Tigres and No. 2 Pumas were stomped in playoff openers this week, both dropping 3-1 decisions in quarterfinal first legs. The other group winner, Atlante, also was beaten.
Third-seeded Morelia was the only away side to win, with Joao Rojas setting up Manuel Perez and Rafael Marquez Lugo in a 2-1 triumph Thursday over America in Mexico City.
Guadalajara, in one of its best performances this season, routed Tigres in Zapopan, Jalisco, using second-half goals by Mario de Luna and Marco Fabian de la Mora, on a penalty kick, to pull away after Jesus Molina's diving header pulled the visitors even just after halftime.
Osvaldo Martinez and Walter Ayovi netted early goals, and Chilean star Humberto Suazo scored his 20th of the Apertura/Clausura as Monterrey, winner of the fall Apertura, buried Pumas. The Mexico City club lost its second in a row after falling just once in their first 16 Clausura games.
Cruz Azul also prevailed, beating Atlante, 2-1, on two Christian Gimenez goals. The Argentine standout could have had a hat trick, but Potros goalkeeper Arturo Muñoz stopped his penalty kick in the 68th minute. Former Chivas USA forward Giancarlo Maldonado scored for Atlante in the seventh minute, his third goal in as many games and fifth of the campaign.
Second legs will be played Saturday and Sunday.
LIGA DE ASCENSO: Alejando Molina's finish leaves Club Tijuana just 270 minutes, if all goes its way, from promotion to the Primera Division.
Molina scored from Raul Enriquez's cross in the 70th minute Wednesday to give the Xolos a 1-0 triumph over top-seeded Leon in a semifinal first leg before a spirited noontime gathering at Estadio Caliente just south of the border.
Atlante Neza, Atlante's reserve side, also won its semifinal opener, toppling second-seeded Irapuato, 1-0, on 2007 Major League Soccer MVP Luciano Emilio's goal just before halftime.
Molina, an attacking player who has found a new home on the Tijuana backline, did well to keep the play alive in the Leon box before tallying. The Esmeraldas, who hadn't played since April 23, suffered only their second loss in their past 27 games.
The Xolos, who won the fall Apertura title, will play in a two-legged promotion playoff if they fail to win the Clausura. If they hold on Saturday in Leon, they would face Irapuato or Atlante Neza in next week's home-and-home final. A triumph there would bring Mexico's top league to Baja California for the first time.
Tijuana was unfortunate to score just once. Enriquez hit the right post from Joe Corona's through ball in the 42nd minute, and Leon goalkeeper Alfonso Blanco did well to parry an Armando Pulido drive in the 62nd.
AMERICANS ABROAD: Former Chivas USA star Jonathan Bornstein, from Los Alamitos, made his first appearance for Tigres since mid-April, coming off the bench at halftime. He was off, in a tactical switch, after less than a half-hour. ... Sacramento-born Miguel Angel Ponce came on for Guadalajara after just 20 minutes for Jonny Magallon. ... Texan Sonny Guadarrama was a late sub for Atlante. ... In Tijuana, San Diego's Corona started on the right flank, his usual spot, for the Xolos; Texan Marco Vidal was solid in Leon's central midfield after coming off the bench 10 minutes into the second half.
COPA CALL: Jaguares rallied three times from deficits Thursday night for a 3-3 draw against Junior in Barranquilla, Colombia, to advance to the Copa Libertadores quarterfinals. The lone Mexican club to reach the final eight of South America's club championship, Jaguares will face Cerro Porteño, one of two Paraguayan clubs to reach the quarters, in Chiapas next week. The second leg will be played in Asuncion the following week.
Edgar Andrade's 86th-minute goal evened aggregate at 3-3, and Jaguares advanced with three away goals to Junior's one. Jackson Martinez scored twice for Jaguares, the Colombian striker's fourth and fifth goals in an eight-day span, including one in last week's first leg, a 1-1 draw in Tuxtla Gutierrez.
QUARTERFINALS, FIRST LEG
Guadalajara 3 (Arellano 40, de Luna 58, de la Mora pen. 66), UANL Tigres 1 (J. Molina 48)
Cruz Azul 2 (C. Gimenez 18, 46), Atlante 1 (Maldonado 7)
Monterrey 3 (O. Martinez 11, W. Ayovi 21, Suazo 47), Pumas UNAM 1 (M. Bravo 69)
America 1 (D. Marquez 70), Morelia 2 (M. Perez 16, Marquez Lugo 61)
QUARTERFINALS, SECOND LEG
Guadalajara at UANL Tigres, 5 p.m.
Cruz Azul at Atlante, 7 p.m.
Monterrey at Pumas UNAM, 10 a.m.
America at Morelia, 6 p.m.
LIGA DE ASCENSO
SEMIFINALS, FIRST LEG
Club Tijuana 1 (A. Molina 70), Leon 0
Atlante Neza 1 (Luciano Emilio 43), Irapuato 0
SEMIFINALS, SECOND LEG
Atlante Neza at Irapuato, 4 p.m.
Club Tijuana at Leon, 6 p.m.
ROUND OF 16, SECOND LEG
America (Mexico) 0, Santos (Brazil) 0
+ Santos advances on aggregate, 1-0
Junior (Colombia) 3 (J. Valencia 35, L. Paez 50, Bacca 72), Jaguares (Mexico) 3 (J. Martinez 39, 63, E. Andrade 86)
+ 4-4 aggregate; Jaguares advance on away goals, 3-1
Matchups, tentatively scheduled for May 11 and 18
Cerro Porteño (Paraguay) vs. Jaguares (Mexico)
Santos (Brazil) vs. Once Caldas (Colombia)
Universidad Catolica (Chile) vs. Peñarol (Uruguay)
Libertad (Paraguay) vs. Velez Sarsfield (Argentina)
All times Pacific