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MEXICO: Advantage to shorthanded Monterrey

Victor Manuel Vucetich already was without three starters, all red-carded in Monterrey's loss to Guadalajara in last weekend's regular-season finale, so his decision to leave stars Humberto Suazo and Walter Ayovi on the bench was not without risk.

No problem for the Rayados, who dictated play most of the way and claimed a 1-1 draw at Pachuca -- almost as good as a victory -- in their quarterfinal opener Thursday in Mexico's Primera Division.

Santos Laguna also came away with a 1-1 tie on the road at Chiapas-based Jaguares, which provides a significant advantage in Sunday's second legs. The higher seeds advance to the semifinals if the aggregate score is even.

Monterrey, the No. 2 seed, went ahead in the 56th minute, with Jose Maria Basanta finishing Neri Cardozo's corner kick. It settled for a draw when Faustino Arizala fired into the top-right corner 11 minutes later.

Pachuca, seeded seventh, had one U.S. World Cup player in its starting lineup (Jose Francisco Torres) and another came off the bench (Herculez Gomez). They couldn't take advantage of a Monterrey side missing suspended midfielder Luis Perez, defender Severo Meza and goalkeeper Luis Michel.

Suazo played for Chile and Ayovi for Ecuador in friendlies Wednesday night, so Vucetich chose to rest them for the second leg. Suazo came on for the final 20 minutes.

Santos coach Ruben Omar Romano took a different approach, using star forward Christian Benitez -- the Apertura's top scorer with 14 goals -- the day after he played alongside Suazo for Chile, and he was dangerous all night. The team from Torreon got its goal in the 22nd minute from Fernando Arce, and Carlos Ochoa pulled Jaguares even 11 minutes later.

LIGA DE ASCENSO: Juan Manuel Sara's 82nd-minute goal, his 11th strike of the season, rallied fourth-seeded Lobos BUAP to a 1-1 draw at Veracruz, giving the university club the advantage heading into Sunday's quarterfinal second leg. No. 5 Veracruz, which took a 72nd-minute lead through Francisco Bravo, is winless in its last five games.

  • PRIMERA DIVISION

QUARTERFINALS, FIRST LEG

Thursday

Pachuca 1 (Arizala 67), Monterrey 1 (Basanta 56)

Jaguares de Chiapas 1 (C. Ochoa 33), Santos Laguna (F. Arce 22)

QUARTERFINALS, SECOND LEG

Saturday

Pumas UNAM at Cruz Azul, 3 p.m.

San Luis at America, 5 p.m.

Sunday

Pachuca at Monterrey, 2 p.m.

Jaguares de Chiapas at Santos Laguna, 4 p.m.

  • LIGA DE ASCENSO

QUARTERFINALS, FIRST LEG

Thursday

Veracruz 1 (F. Bravo 72), Lobos BUAP 1 (J. Sara 82)

QUARTERFINALS, SECOND LEG

Saturday

Irapuato at Alacranes de Durango, 5 p.m.

Albinegros de Orizaba at Indios de Ciudad Juarez, 5 p.m.

Sunday

Veracruz at Lobos BUAP, 3 p.m.

Note: Club Tijuana has bye to semifinals