Tigres and Toluca take big steps towards semifinals

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By Jonny Rico
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It was a dream start to the Liga MX 2017 Clausura playoffs for both Tigres UANL and Toluca FC. Both teams took big 4-1 wins in their respective first leg quarterfinal matches and look poised to advance to the semifinal round. They both still need to see out the result in the second leg match but with the three goal lead, both will have a comfortable 90 minutes on Saturday.

CF MONTERREY PAID THE PRICE FOR NO SHOW

The 2017 Clausura playoffs kicked off in high fashion with a ‘Clasico Regiomontano‘ between crosstown rivals Monterrey and reigning Liga MX champions Tigres UANL. Unfortunately only one team came to play Wednesday night.

Tigres took advantage of every positive condition going in their favor and every negative condition Monterrey had going against them. Tigres took advantage of their home turf, in the last four home matches, Tigres has won all four outscoring the opposition 14-1. And these were not bottom of the table opponents that Tigres steamrolled at ‘El Volcan‘. Tigres beat; Chivas (3-0), Pumas UNAM (4-0), Tijuana Xolos (3-0) and CF Monterrey (4-1).

The still Liga MX champs also took advantage of the dip in form that Monterrey has been suffering lately. Monterrey finished out the regular season with only one win in the last five matches including two consecutive losses in the final two games. Star striker Dorlan Pabon has not been at his finest. He scored an 85th minute penalty kick in the final game of the season against Morelia but had not scored since Week 8 against Pachuca.

Tigres even took advantage of key referee mistakes throughout the match. Center referee, Cesar Arturo Ramos missed a clear penalty call in favor of Monterrey in the second half when Tigres’ Javier Aquino gave Monterrey forward Rogelio Funer-Mori a shove in the back with his shoulder as Funes-Mori tried to place a shot on goal. Ramos also showed Monterrey striker Aldo de Nigris a red card, he considered that de Nigris placing his hand on Tigres’ goalkeeper Nahuel Guzman was an aggression. But it was Guzman who laid his hand on de Nigris’ face first so the correct call was either both are given red or neither. The mistakes did not affect the overall outcome of the match since Tigres were clearly the better team but they might have a lasting affect on the series. The return leg match in Monterrey would be completely different with Tigres having their starting goalkeeper suspended and Monterrey having an extra away-goal in the bag.

The second leg match of this series is scheduled for Saturday May 13th at 5:00pm (Pacific) / 8:00pm (Eastern) and will be shown live in the United States on Univision and Univision Deportes Network.

SANTOS NOT READY FOR PLAYOFFS

 

Photo Credit: Club Santos Laguna (Twitter)

Toluca FC came into Torreon and completely steamrolled over Santos Laguna in the first leg match of the quarterfinals. The home side seemed ill-prepared for a playoff series and seemed to be playing a midseason match. The visiting Toluca brought the intensity needed and pounced on the many mistakes that Santos gave up.

Veteran goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco looked strangely nervous committing simple yet deadly mistakes. His first one led to the opening goal of the match. He came off his line to cut or punch away a corner kick cross but midway had a change of heart. The fall fell to Gabriel Hauche who put the ball into the now empty net. Minutes later Orozco, playing way out of his goal and combined by a horrible backwards pass gave Toluca the golden opportunity to make it 2-0 but the long range shot hit the post on its way out wide.

Despite not having one of their main attacking options Djaniny Tavares, Santos managed to find an equalizing goal early in the second half through Jonathan Rodriguez. But the defensive gaps continued throughout the second half and Toluca took advantage scoring three unanswered goals.

The visitors were really benefited from the return of two players who had been serving long suspensions. Rubens Sambuez had been suspended for causing a season ending injury on Chivas’ Isaac Brizuela and Enrique Triverio had been given an eight game suspension which was later turned into a 1-year suspension for an altercation with a referee.

Triverio along with fellow Liga MX player Pablo Aguilar traveled to Switzerland to appeal the federation’s 1-year suspension. Both players had their suspensions reduced to the original punishment of eight games for Triverio and ten games for Aguilar.

Both Triverio and Sambueza made their returns from suspensions against Santos in spectacular fashion. Sambueza sent in the cross that Hauche turned into the opening goal of the match. And Triverio scored the go-ahead goal only two minutes after Santos had found an equalizer.

The return leg match of this series will be played in Toluca’s Estadio Nemezio Diez and is scheduled for next Saturday May 13th at 7:00pm (Pacific) / 10:00pm (Eastern) and will be shown live in the United States on Univision Deportes Network.

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