Leones Negros will need to win next week against Cruz Azul to have any chance of clinching their Liga MX survival as the University of Guadalajara side lost 2-1 against Veracruz at the Estadio Jalisco on Sunday.
Alfonso Sosa’s team came into this game needing four points from their two remaining games to secure their permanence in the top-tier of Mexican soccer, and now the defeat leaves the team on the border of relegation with one week remaining in the season. Leones Negros now need a victory and a Puebla defeat to assure survival.
On the other hand, with the result, Veracruz climbed to the top of the table and wrapped up their qualification to the Liguilla.
Leones Negros made a strong start to the game with Fidel Martinez coming close to getting the breakthrough after only 13 minutes. The Ecuadorian winger, who has been UDG’s best player this season, gathered a headed pass inside the box and volleyed just inches above the crossbar.
In the 23rd minute, Veracruz surrendered the lead through a horrendous goalkeeping mistake. Meliton Hernandez tried to clear a Fidel Martinez cross, but the goalkeeper failed to hold on and slipped the ball into his own net.
The second-half saw UDG soak up the pressure from the Veracruz attackers as the Tiburones Rojos searched for the equalizer.
In the 59th minute, Juan Angel Albin found himself with a rebound inside the box following a free-kick. The Uruguayan midfielder sent his shot across the box and into the net to put things at 1-1.
Leones Negros nearly earned a chance to regain the lead 10 minutes from time when Rodolfo Vilchis unleashed a bicycle kick that went only inches wide of Meliton’s goal.
However, a Veracruz breakaway six minutes later proved devastating for the hosts. Emmanuel Garcia burst his way into the box and rifled past Humberto Hernandez to give Veracruz the lead.
But there was time for late drama. First, Jesus Vasquez received a headed pass only yards away from goal before sending his shot flying in catastrophic fashion.
In stoppage-time, Felix Araujo had a glorious chance to level but his headed effort bounced agonizingly against the crossbar.
At the final whistle, Veracruz held on to put Leones Negros’ Liga MX status in doubt.