Pablo Aguilar settles Cruz Azul's nerves Santos Laguna and Monterrey still with plenty to play for

Cruz Azul’s Edgar Mendez celebrates after scoring the second aim their quarterfinal first leg in opposition to Queretaro.

MEXICO CITY — Three factors on the Liguilla openers in Queretaro and Monterrey:

1. Cruz Azul impresses early; shows no playoff jitters

When Pablo Aguilar slammed within the sport’s first aim after 16 minutes on the Estadio Corregidora, no Mexican soccer observer could be stunned if a collective sigh got here out of the mouths of Cruz Azul followers in every single place. The Paraguay worldwide put his staff on the right track for what ended up being a snug away victory that units the primary seed up for a clean highway to the subsequent spherical.

Given all the eye and strain being lobbed on Cruz Azul for their prolonged championship drought, in addition to wonderful play within the common season, tonight was anticlimactic for all concerned. After Edgar Mendez doubled the lead early within the second half, a 3rd aim was on the playing cards on multiple event for Los Cementeros.

Pedro Caixinha’s staff failed to speculate from the get go, piling strain on the opposition and disabling the one factor that made Queretaro profitable in opposition to them earlier within the 12 months: Stifling the counter-attack. On Saturday, Wednesday’s losers will want nothing wanting a miracle to transfer ahead.

2. Funes Mori’s cracker offers Monterrey the benefit

A unbelievable aim from Rogelio Funes Mori was the distinction on the Estadio BBVA Bancomer, giving the hosts a slight benefit in a really evenly matched sport. Although the house staff solely held onto the ball for 46 % of the match, they’d 5 pictures on aim to Santos Laguna’s 4.

Within the 59th minute of the sport, Funes Mori chested upwards off a cross from the best aspect of the field, then swiftly leaped right into a bicycle kick that left former Monterrey goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco with out the slightest probability to save. Simply 5 minutes later, Funes Mori fell again down to earth as he whiffed on an opportunity to make it 2-Zero after breaking freed from the Santos protection.

For the guests, a goal-line clearance from Jesus Gallardo stored them off the scoresheet simply minutes earlier than Funes Mori unleashed his stroke of genius. A free kick from the left aspect discovered Julio Furch’s head, and the Argentine headed previous Marcelo Barovero. Fortunately for Rayados, Gallardo leapt into motion kicking the ball away simply inches from the aim.

Although it appeared unlikely the sport would finish with simply the one aim, Orozco parried away a close-range strike from Nicolas Sanchez within the 75th minute, whereas a large open Furch was unable to head the ball away from Barovero simply eight minutes earlier than the sport’s finish.

Three. House groups in benefit for the second leg

Cruz Azul’s final residence victory in opposition to Queretaro in Liga MX was in 2016. Regardless of the current stumbles (excluding a Three-Zero Copa win earlier this 12 months), it appears greater than cheap to recommend that La Maquina will likely be ready to recover from the hump given their two-goal benefit.

Santos Laguna, alternatively, will tackle Monterrey with a one-goal deficit. The defending champions, nonetheless, haven’t misplaced to Rayados on the Estadio Corona in two years, that means they’ve a greater than first rate alternative to transfer ahead ought to they find a way to win on Saturday.

The one drawback for Santos at this level is the actual fact an away aim leaves them susceptible. Of their final 44 matches in opposition to one another, courting again to 2003, the splits between Santos Laguna and Monterrey have been remarkably related: Santos has 13 wins to Monterrey’s 14, with 17 attracts between each groups.

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