Marcelo Barovero was the hero as Necaxa moved on to the Liga MX semifinals after a goalless draw with Pachuca on Sunday.
Despite being outplayed for the majority of the match, Necaxa coped well enough to ensure progress courtesy of their 2-1 win in the first leg.
It was a largely Pachuca dominated match, and goalkeeper Marcelo Barovero’s influence in the game cannot be understated. The former River Plate man made a total of nine saves to keep the defending champions out.
In the closing stages of the match, Pachuca’s frustrations were compounded by an injury to Hirving “Chucky” Lozano. The Mexican international was hurt in a hefty challenge from Cluadio Riano, who received his marching orders as a result of the tackle.
The disruption robbed Pachuca of one of their best players, but the Tuzos rallied on, mounting forward in search of the equalizer.
At the end, though, it hardly mattered as Necaxa did their job to set-up a semifinal clash with Club America.
Felipe Gallegos and Claudio Riaño scored as Necaxa took a 2-1 advantage over reigning champions Pachuca in the first leg of their 2016 Liga MX Apertura quarterfinals clash on Thursday.
Pachuca impressed early on, but it was Necaxa who provided the opener when a long-distance shot from Felipe Gallegos produced a howler from Oscar “Conejo” Perez.
Conejo’s mistake sparked Pachuca into a greater share of possession, and in the second half, Pachuca found a crucial away goal as Victor Guzman, who was replacing the injured Erick Gutierrez, rifled in a Rodolfo Pizarro pass to put things at 1-1.
Edson Puch had limited impact all game, but the Chilean international made it count. In the 85th minute, Puch danced his way into the box before setting up Claudio Riaño, who slotted past Conejo from a tight angle to give the hosts a stunning win.
Both sides will meet again on Sunday at the Estadio Hidalgo, where Pachuca will need to win by any scoreline to keep their title defense alive.
Pumas UNAM moved to sixth in the league table and set-up a quarterfinal clash with Tigres as a brace from Pablo Barrera helped the Universitarios to a 3-0 win over Puebla at the Estadio Cuauhtemoc.
Barrera was the architect of all three goals as Pumas sealed their place in the Liguilla, eliminating Monterrey in the process.
It was Puebla who carved out the best chances in the first half. However, a red card to Patricio Araujo late in the period saw Puebla play the second half with only ten men.
The Universitarios then broke the deadlock on 54 minutes through a perfectly taken Pablo Barrera penalty to take the lead.
The former West Ham winger was also at the heart of the visitor’s second goal, with Barrera setting up Britos with an easy finish past Cristian Campestrini.
Things went from bad to worse for Puebla when Francisco Torres was shown his marching orders for a bad tackle on Fidel Martinez, leaving the hosts down to nine men.
With less than ten minutes to go in the game, Barrera would have a second from a fast break to seal a comfortable win for the Universitarios.
Pumas UNAM will now take on Tigres in the quarterfinals of Liga MX, which are highlighted by the Clasico Nacional between Club America and Chivas.
Franco Jara scored a late penalty for Pachuca as they settled for an entertaining 3-3 draw with Club America on Saturday.
Pachuca needed just eight minutes to open the scoring when Edson Alvarez headed home an own goal from a Raul “Dedos” Lopez header.
The Tuzos immediately enjoyed a spell of pressure and doubled their lead four minutes later. Franco Jara calmly slotted the ball past Moises Munoz from the edge of the box to put things at 2-0.
As Pachuca eased up, Club America reduced the deficit to just one in the 40th minute when Carlos Darwin Quintero, who was returning from a long injury layoff, set up Silvio Romero to score past Oscar “Conejo” Perez.
The goal breathed new life into the visitors, and in the second half, Las Aguilas pushed on for the equalizer.
In the 72nd minute, Carlos Darwin Quintero did well to hold on to a ball on the right-wing before sending a strong cross for Romero, who was there to tap home from point-blank range and level the score at two goals.
Moments later, Michael Arroyo converted a superb free-kick to complete the come back.
But there would be one final moment of drama in the game when a penalty was called for a Paolo Goltz foul on Rodolfo Pizarro. Franco Jara stepped up and fired in his second goal of the night to rescue a point for the champions.
With the result, Pachuca missed the opportunity to overtake Xolos de Tijuana at the top of the Liga MX table, and will now wait for Sunday to see who they will face in the quarterfinals.
Meanwhile, Club America clinched a top-five finish and will take on Chivas in the quarterfinals.
Ruben Botta’s double helped Pachuca come from two goals down to a 3-1 victory over Atlas at Estadio Hidalgo.
Atlas had taken a 15th minute lead through Daniel “Fideo” Alvarez before Martin Barragan converted a 22nd minute penalty.
But Ruben Botta hit back three minutes later when he sent a left footed strike past Oscar Ustari to set up a tense final hour.
In the 55th minute, Botta completed his brace with another left footed strike from outside the box.
Jonathan Urretaviscaya then turned the game on its head when he dribbled his way into the box before firing across Ustari for the 3-2.
At the final whistle, Pachuca held on to earn another three points at home and seal a place in the Liguilla with two games still to play.
Next, Pachuca will visit struggling Cruz Azul at the Estadio Azul, while Atlas will play their final home game of the season against Club America.