Here are your five conclusions from the thirteenth week of play in the 2018 Liga MX Apertura.
Atlas and Veracruz play out a thriller in VAR debut
At first glance, this was supposed to be one of the least appealing games of Week 13. But Omar Gonzalez struck a stoppage-time winner, as Atlas earned a thrilling 4-3 victory over Veracruz at the Estadio Jalisco. Cristian Menendez’s 82nd minute equalizer was set to earn ten-man Veracruz a hard-earned point, but Gonzalez’s late goal gave Atlas only their second victory of the season.
Although this was 90 minutes of great entertainment, most will remember this game as the first time VAR (Video Assistant Referee) was ever used in Liga MX. Match official Adonai Escobedo Gonzalez was in charge of the first ever use of the technology, calling a penalty ten minutes into the match and then later calling another penalty in favor of Veracruz. Both calls, as you may imagine, were the correct ones, albeit criticism from Veracruz owner Fidel Kuri Grajales.
With the initial curiosity of how VAR would work in Mexico now out of the way, you just know the Liguilla is going to be fun this season. Get ready to make your rectangle motions.
Querétaro leave it late to knock down Cruz Azul
Having a good goalkeeper is a crucial commodity in Liga MX, and in Tiago Volpi, Querétaro definitely have that. Volpi was once again brilliant for the Gallos Blancos, making four big saves, as Querétaro earned a massive 2-0 win over title-favorites Cruz Azul.
Though the goals came late, the Gallos Blancos now find themselves seventh and fully immersed in a battle for the final Liguilla spots. Querétaro haven’t been in a Liguilla since Ronaldinho was in Liga MX, so in and of itself, making the final eight would be a huge accomplishment for coach Rafael Puente Jr.
Meanwhile, Cruz Azul’s inability to hold on for the draw saw them drop from the top of the league table into second. Obviously, the Cementeros are in cruise control right now after superb start to the season, but they might want to start collecting some momentum soon if they plan on making a run in the Liguilla.
Club América go top after Tijuana thumping
It seems inevitable that Club América will once again be in the Liguilla as one of the favorites to lift the title. On Saturday, Las Águilas thumped Xolos de Tijuana 3-0 at the Estadio Azteca to move into first place in the league table with four games to go in the regular season.
América haven’t always looked convincing, but as has been the case this season at the Estadio Azteca, it was business as usual for Miguel Herrera’s men. Las Águilas haven’t lost a single game at home in this Apertura, and despite all the pitch problems the Azteca has encountered during the last few months, they seem to be playing at their best under the lights of the Coloso de Santa Ursula.
Speaking of the Azteca, it was also nice to see Diego Lainez score his first ever Liga MX goal in front of his home fans. Lainez suffered a small injury in training just a few weeks ago, but looked fully recovered, notching a spot in the starting XI and scoring a golazo.
Chivas Liguilla dream hangs by a thread
Chivas Guadalajara’s failure to beat Lobos BUAP means the Rojiblancos’ Liguilla dream hangs on a thread. After a 1-1 draw in Puebla, things are getting complicated for Jose Saturnino Cardozo’s men, who once again dominated for large portions of the match but were unable to finish off their chances.
In theory, 25 points should get you in the Liguilla, and Chivas are currently at 16 with four games still to play in the season. If you are doing your math correctly, that means Chivas need to at least win three of their remaining four matches, which seems like a tough ask from a team that is winless in their last five matches across all competitions.
That said, it’s also not impossible. Chivas did go through a run of three straight wins earlier in the season, and barring Tigres in Week 17, their schedule isn’t exactly the strongest. Time to start praying, Chivas fans.
Pumas and Tigres finish leveled at three goals apiece
In addition the seven-goal thriller in Guadalajara, the other entertaining match of the week happened in Mexico City, as Pumas UNAM and Tigres UANL settled for a 3-3 draw at the Estadio Universitario.
While both teams looked happy to have shared the spoils at the end of the game, Tigres are leaving it very late when it comes to earning a place in the Liguilla. Currently, the Regiomontanos are seventh in the league table, and their schedule still requires them to play both Monarcas Morelia and Chivas, two teams theoretically fighting with Tigres for those final two Liguilla spots.
The bad news for Tigres is even if they do make the Liguilla, they haven’t fared as well against teams in the top-half of the league table. In fact, with this 3-3 draw, Querétaro has been the only team Tigres has been able to beat amongst the top-eight. All in all, it just hasn’t been a dominant season from Tuca and his players.