Round 16: Liguilla picture no clearer with one round remaining – a quick review of all the action (VIDEO)

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With Atlante clearing up the relegation picture last weekend, all eyes were on the race for the liguilla places with just one more round remaining after this in the regular season. Only Cruz Azul and Toluca were already guaranteed their places and that perhaps had some bearing on the outcome of the their matches this weekend. Cruz Azul were thrashed by Morelia while Toluca were edged out by Atlas in Guadalajara to leave the victors as one of ELEVEN teams battling it out for just FIVE remaining liguilla spots. Elsewhere, Pumas booked their ticket with victory over Chivas to dent, but not demolish the hopes of Los Rojiblancos and the other notable result came in Sunday’s final match in Cancún as Tijuana ended their winless streak on the road, a run which stretches back 22 matches to Jaunary 2013. Dario Benedetto’s late goal gave Los Xolos the win and puts them just a point away from a place in the liguilla.

Morelia  5 – 1  Cruz Azul

The result matters little to Cruz Azul but could be invaluable to Morelia as they leapt into the liguilla spots on goal difference. Aldo Leao superbly gave Monarcas the lead with a well struck shot from outside the box which flew into the net off the underside of the bar and before too long, the defence of La Máquina was breached again. This time, Héctor Mancilla skipped past some weak challenges before squeezing a shot under the body of Guillermo Allison. Achille Emaná pulled one back, 3 minutes before the break but before El Azul could get back to the dressing room, Mancilla reestablished the lead from the penalty spot. Second half goals from Duvier Riascos and Óscar Fernández completed the rout and leaves Morelia full of confidence going into their final match against lowly Puebla.

Club América  0 – 0  Querétaro

Antonio Mohamed’s, América continue to labour and after their latest stalemate their place in the playoffs is not yet certain. Antonio López came closest to snatching the points but his point blank header was kept out by the sprawling Edgar Hernández. Las Águilas require a point to make certain when they travel to Toluca next weekend, while Los Gallos Blancos have, what is probably a winner-takes-all match when they host Pachuca.

Santos Laguna  2 – 3  Chiapas

Pedro Caixinha’s side, no doubt weary from their long trip back from Argentina after midweek defeat to Arsenal in the Copa Libertadores still have a little work to do to confirm their place in the playoffs. With one eye on the second leg against Arsenal this week, Santos were tripped up by Chiapas, who still harbour hopes of making a late surge themselves. Andrés Rentería rifled Santos in front but three quick-fire goals quickly turned the game on it’s head. First, Lucas Viatri smashed in a penalty before Félix Araujo and then Wilberto Cosme put distance between the sides. Oribe Peralta did muster a consolation from the spot in the final minutes but it was too late. Caixinha’s boys will need a point away to Veracruz while Chiapas will undoubtedly need all 3 and a bit of luck when they host Atlante.

Pachuca  1 – 2  Puebla

Puebla surprised Pachuca despite their season being over and in doing so leave Pachuca with work to do. Carlos Sánchez expertly curled in the opener and although Hugo Rodríguez headed in a second half equaliser, Puebla bounced straight back. Jesús Chávez rose to head in the winner just 4 minutes later and earn his side just a third win of the season. Pachuca’s trip to Querétaro next weekend takes on an even greater significance.

Monterrey  4 – 1  Veracruz

Monterrey got the win that was both expected and needed against Veracruz to keep themselves in the playoff picture going into the final weekend. However, things didn’t start as planned when Alfredo Moreno put the vistors in front. It took just 5 minutes for parity to be restored when César Delgado nodded Monterrey level. Chilean, Humberto Suazo added a second and after the break, Neri Cardozo rifled in the third before Suazo tapped in a 90th minute fourth. The win means that Monterrey know that anything less than a win against liguilla rivals, Chivas next week will see their season end prematurely.

León  3 – 0  Tigres

Champions, León kept their slim hopes alive with a convincing win to end Tigres’ chance of qualification. Luis Franco’s looping header put León in front and two excellent, Miguel Sabah strikes ensured the trip to Tijuana next weekend is still live. However, with a midweek trip to Bolivia in the Copa Libertadores before then, it is a real ask. A win against Los Xolos is needed as well as kind results elsewhere are needed so any hopes of back-to-back titles look slim.

Atlas  1 – 0  Toluca

Atlas were able to take full advantage of Toluca’s involvement in the Champion’s League final and pick up the required victory to remain in the hunt for the playoffs. An under strength Toluca were punished by a not entirely convincing Atlas, as Rodrigo Millar’s second half header was enough to snatch the win. Atlas are one of the other teams locked on 21 points ahead of the final weekend so they know that a win against Tigres would see them into the playoff.

Pumas  1 – 0  Chivas

A deserved victory for the resurgent Pumas saw them become the third side guaranteed in the liguilla. Daniel Ramirez scored the only goal of the game but in truth, a rather flat, Chivas performance rarely threatened to get anything from the match. Pumas face Cruz Azul in a dead-rubber on the final day while Chivas have an all together more signficant match against Monterrey.

Atlante  1 – 2  Tijuana

It has taken 22 matches but finally Los Xolos have won on their travels. Although the victory came against an already relegated, Atlante, it importantly puts Tijuana all but in the playoffs and may just give them a renewed confidence when playing outside the Estadio Caliente. Francisco Astrada’s deflected effort gave Atlante the lead but goals from Fidel Martínez and a late Dario Benedetto strike set up the drought ending victory.

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