An inspired performance against Toluca from Ismael Sosa earned Pumas UNAM a 3-2 victory at Ciudad Universitaria on Sunday.
Pumas took the lead on 39 minutes when Ismael Sosa swept home from a Fidel Martinez free-kick.
A Christian Cueva strike leveled the score early in the second half, but Sosa grabbed his second of the afternoon within a space of two minutes that saw the Universtarios go 2-1 up.
Eduardo Herrera stretched the lead in the 77th minute when he volleyed past Alfredo Talavera from a Javier Cortes headed pass.
Toluca were given a lifeline and pulled one back seven minutes from the end through Enrique Triverio, but the hosts held out for all three points.
Next Pumas will play hosts for a second consecutive game against Puebla.
Meanwhile, Toluca will play a visit to Monarcas Morelia at the Estadio Morelos.
Fernando Uribe fired Toluca to a 1-0 win over Tigres and inflicted the Liga MX champions their first defeat of the season on Sunday.
The Colombian forward scored a scrappy goal in added time to ensure his side took all three points from the reigning champions.
Tigres enjoyed the greater period of possession in the match, but struggled to gain momentum, as Fernando Fernandez and Lucas Zelayaran looked to bring a spark off the bench in their Liga MX debuts.
But it was the Diablos Rojos who found a way through with a minute to go. Carlos Esquivel fed Uribe inside the area and the former Atletico Nacional striker fired in the winner past Nahuel Guzman.
Toluca next will play a visit to Pumas UNAM at Ciudad Universitaria, while Tigres will host their first home game of the season against Morelia.
Alfredo Talavera was Toluca’s hero as the Diablos Rojos held Tigres to a scoreless draw in the first leg of their Liga MX semifinal showdown.
The Mexico national team goalkeeper pulled off a vital save to deny Juninho from the penalty spot and enable Toluca to earn a small advantage against Ricardo Ferretti’s men.
Tigres enjoyed the better of the early stages at the Estadio Univeritario, but ultimately had to make do with a share of the spoils to set up an intriguing second leg at the Estadio Nemesio Diez on Sunday.
To date, Toluca coach Jose Saturnino Cardozo has never manged to beat Ricardo Ferretti in the semifinals, but another scoreless draw would be enough to secure a berth in the Liga MX Final for Toluca.
1. Pumas UNAM vs 6. Club America
Pumas UNAM is set to take on Club America in the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. This time, though, it means a lot more to both set of fans.
On the whole, it doesn’t get bigger than this, with the two most successful teams in Mexico City for the past two decades going head-to-head for a spot in the Liga MX final.
For Pumas, Sunday’s quarterfinal win against Veracruz sparked more debate than comfort. There was no avoiding the fractious headlines of the “Curse of the Superlider” and how they looked more than a little toothless.
But it’s hard to argue that Pumas is no longer the team to beat. So many of Pumas goals in the regular season were because of Ismael Sosa and Fidel Martinez. Both weren’t very flattering on Sunday, but they needed just one interaction inside the box to send Pumas on their way to the next round.
Like Sosa and Martinez, Daniel Luduena, Matias Britos, and Eduardo Herrera offer a well put together attacking threat that can challenge the best defenses in Liga MX.
Club America, however, will be no easy task for the Universitarios. Las Aguilas are in their astounding sixth semifinal appearance in their last eight Liga MX seasons.
Their 2-1 defeat to Leon in the return leg, after winning 4-1 at the Estadio Azteca, wasn’t ideal, and in that regard, some midweek criticism was heeded. Still, the defeat probably didn’t bother them too much, and they are no strangers to what it takes to be Liga MX champions.
At the front, Rubens Sambueza was again brilliant. Coach Ignacio Ambriz will be pleased to have signed the midfielder to a contract extension and he could be key in snatching victory from Pumas.
If we are being a honest, a Clasico Capitalino in the regular season is already a must-watch game. A Clasico Capitalino in the Liguilla just elevates things to the highest level. Sparks should fly in Mexico City all week.
2. Toluca vs 5. Tigres UANL
Ever since Tigres decided to open the check book during the summer transfer window, expectations were automatically raised. And who can blame us? No one has the squad potential that Tigres has. With that in mind, Ricardo Ferretti’s side opened their playoff campaign against Chiapas. And they opened it well.
Every now and then they kept Chiapas on their toes, and when they were briefly down on away goals, they made sure their individual talent made all the difference. After the superb Andre-Pierre Gignac gave Tigres a 3-1 aggregate lead at the Victor Manuel Reyna, the Nuevo Leon outfit made possession football a part-time hobby. That is Tigres, a team that is as strong tactically as it is talented individually. That is also why to lose to Toluca in the semifinals may be regarded as a failure.
The Diablos Rojos, though, always seem to suffer in the Liguilla when Jose Saturnino Cardozo is in charge. It can’t all be bad luck for Cardozo. Against Puebla, the victory looked assure by half-time of the first leg, but there was always something inevitable about the series. La Franja fought back and they came within a goal of taking down the league’s second best placed team.
Toluca may have looked poor, but they are still a shrewd side. Cardozo knows that and he too will recognize they need to improve.
As a striker, Cardozo won everything imaginable in Mexico but he has never won silverware as a coach. Incidentally, the one area of the team that has been a guaranteed success has been their strike-force. Cardozo will need Fernando Uribe and Enrique Triverio to be at their best if they want to take down the super Tigres. Otherwise, it could the be the last time we see Cardozo at the Toluca bench.
Fernando Uribe scored the only goal of the match as Toluca dumped Puebla out of the Liga MX playoffs with a 3-2 aggregate win on Sunday.
It was thanks to a valiant effort from seventh seed Puebla that Toluca just edged their way to a 1-0 win in the return leg.
Puebla showed the most spirit, and could have taken the lead on several occasions throughout the match.
But against the run of play, Uribe scored the only goal in the 83rd minute when the Colombian finished off a lighting counter-attack to seal the tie for the Diablos Rojos.
Toluca’s win meant they set up a semifinal clash against Tigres, with the Diablos Rojos hosting the return leg.
Meanwhile, in the other semifinal, Club America will take on Pumas UNAM in the Clasico Capitalino after the latter defeated Veracruz 1-0 on Sunday.