Pachuca earned a solid victory against Tijuana, defeating Xolos 4-0 and advancing in to the 2017 Copa MX Apertura Semifinals. Víctor Guzmán had a brace and Keisuke Honda’s golazo ensured the home fans at Estadio Hidalgo went home happy.
The game’s first few minutes were rather uneventful, with neither team showing much early on. In the 14th minute there was controversy as the referee whistled a penalty for Tuzos on a foul in the box on Franco Jara. Xolos players were incensed, saying that no foul had been commmitted but the referee was having none of it. Jara was able to convert the penalty on a shot that froze Gibran Lajud, and gave Tuzos the early lead.
The favor was returned in the 20th minute when Tuzos goalkeeper Alfonso Blanco was ruled to have fouled a Xolos player in the box. Nacho Malcorra took the penalty, but Blanco made a fantastic diving stop on the shot to keep the home side in the lead.
In the 23rd minute, a Keisuke Honda free kick was redirected on its way on net by Víctor Guzmán, but Lajud was able to hang on and smother the chance. In the 30th minute, Honda was able to beat Lajud when he got a brilliant backheel pass but it was ruled offside. Two minutes later, Lajud would come up with a huge stop on an Angelo Sagal shot from close range.
Tuzos would double their lead in the 34th minute when Víctor Guzmán got on the end of a cross into the box and headed it past Lajud. Guzmán played the offside perfectly - one inch further and it would have been ruled off.
Keisuke Honda would add on to the total in the 42nd minute when he made a fantastic run, turning the Xolos defense inside out before beating Lajud with a well placed shot.
Xolos looked flat from the start of the first half, and the controversy surrounding the Tuzos penalty and the Blanco save on their penalty really seemed to keep the team out of sorts. The defense wasn’t on the same page and gave up a lot of chances as a result, while the offense was almost non-existant.
The second half would start out much the same, as a defensive lapse shortly after the initial whistle left Franco Jara alone in the box. Fortunately for the visitors he elected to hit the shot on the volley and put it over the bar.
Xolos would start to mount some pressure shortly after the half started. In the 56th minute, Juan Iturbe found himself in space and was able to get a good header off of a Matías Aguirregaray cross, but Alfonso Blanco was able to make the stop. In the 58th minute, Damián Pérez was left alone on the left and got off a good shot that Blanco turned away.
In the 67th minute, another defensive breakdown by Tijuana would result in a Pachuca goal. Angelo Sagal make a good run down the Pachuca left, drawing multiple Xolos defenders. This left Víctor Guzmán alone, and he easily slotted it home, increasing the Tuzos lead to four.
In the 77th minute, Juan Iturbe hit a shot from long distance that seemed to catch Blanco by surprise. He bobbled the ball and it fell behind him but didn’t fully cross the line.
As the clock struck 90’, Juan Lucero drew a foul in the box and was awarded a penalty. Miller Bolaños took the penalty and the result was the same as it had been earlier in the match - Blanco making a fantastic diving save to keep the clean sheet.
Tuzos will host Atlas on Saturday in their final Liga MX match of the season before facing Atlante next week in the Copa MX semifinal round. Xolos will play Toluca on Sunday, and it’s still mathematically possible the match could lead Tijuana into the Liguilla.
Club Pachuca: Alfonso Blanco; Joaquín Martínez, Robert Herrera, Óscar Murillo, Raul López; Erick Gutiérrez (Erick Sánchez, 74’), Jorge Hernández, Víctor Guzmán; Angelo Sagal, Franco Jara (Roberto DeLaRosa, 81’), Keisuke Honda (Francisco Figueroa, 81’)
Club Tijuana: Gibran Lajud; Damián Pérez, Emanuel Aguilera, Juan Carlos Valenzuela, Matías Aguirregaray (Michael Orozco, 69’); Damián Musto, Ignacio Malcorra, Juan Iturbe, Alejandro Guido (Miller Bolaños, 53’); Juan Lucero, Gustavo Bou (Luis Mendoza, 65’)
Scoring: Club Pachuca - Franco Jara (15’), Víctor Guzmán (36’, 66’), Keisuke Honda (42’); Club Tijuana - None
Disciplinary: Club Pachuca - None; Club Tijuana - Juan Carlos Valenzuela (Yellow - 14’)