Tijuana came into the match already having been eliminated from Liguilla play. Monarcas Morelia on the other hand are very much alive in the Liguilla hunt, and strengthened their case for the postseason with a gritty 3-2 win over Xolos at Estadio Caliente.
Xolos started the match with an odd lineup. Antonio Nava was given the start at right back, and Miller Bolaños was left out of the squad entirely. Starting up top for Xolos was Fabián Castillo and Eryc Castillo, both of whom are more accustomed to playing wide on the wing. Monarcas on the other hand started a predictable yet strong lineup of their regular players minus Gabriel Achilier. Achilier picked up a red card last week against Tigres, so he was replaced by Jorge Valadéz.
The match started out rather slow, with neither side giving up any big chances. Tijuana tried their luck most often by looking to link Luis Fuentes and Jesús Angulo down the left flank against Carlos Guzmán. Unfortunately, the passes into the box often fell to no one in particular and were cleared easily.
Xolos had a good chance in the 30th minute when Fabián Castillo was able to make a run from right to left across Sebastián Sosa’s box however the shot whistled just wide of the net. Minutes later, it would be Morelia’s turn when Rodolfo Vilchis drew Gibran Lajud off of his line and chipped the ball over the goalkeeper. Luckily for Tijuana, Luis Fuentes was on hand to head the ball up and out of danger.
In the 39th minute, Rodolfo Vilchis would hit a corner kick that Miguel Sansores was able to get his head on and beat Gibran Lajud to the far corner.
Monarcas came out swinging in the second half. In the 49th, Vilchis uncorked a shot from just outside of the box that didn’t miss adding to the lead by much.
Xolos would draw one back in the 53rd minute when Sebastián Sosa misplayed a shot. The rebound wound up at the feet of Xolos Academy product Antonio Nava. The young right back drilled home the equalizer, scoring on his debut.
Nava’s play was impressive, winning a few duels and making good runs along the right side of the pitch. He didn’t give up on plays and was a nuisance to Morelia when Tijuana went on the defensive.
It wouldn’t stand long though. In the 60th minute, Sebastián Vegas would hit a long range bomb that simply beat Gibran Lajud to put La Monarquia up once more.
Two minutes later, Xolos had a fantastic opportunity to draw level once more when Nava raced down the right and hit a cross that Fabián Castillo inexplicably missed. In the 66th, Xolos would have a flurry of opporunities in the Monarcas box, but were ultimately unable to register a single shot on goal from the work.
Xolos would get their second goal in the 72nd minute when Fabián Castillo was able to hammer home a rebound from inside the box. The goal would be Castillo’s second in Liga MX play.
Monarcas would once again take the lead in the 84th minute when Carlos Fierro would hit a cross to Sansores, who would once again beat Lajud with a well-placed shot that Lajud couldn’t get a hand on.
Try as they might to find one more equalizer, it was not meant to be for the home side.
While there are no games next week due to the international break, Xolos will face Puebla in their season finale on Friday, November 23. Monarcas on the other hand will host Cruz Azul in a match with huge playoff implications.
Club Tijuana: Gibran Lajud; Luis Fuentes, Gustavo Canto (Juan Carlos Valenzuela, 46’), Julián Velázquez, Antonio Nava; Jesús Angulo (Rubio Rubín, 86’), Diego Rodríguez, Luis Chávez, Ignacio Rivero; Eryc Castillo (Juan Martín Lucero, 67’), Fabián Castillo
Monarcas Morelia: Sebastián Sosa; Sebastián Vegas, Emanuel Loeschbor, Jorge Valadéz, Carlos Guzmán; Rodolfo Vilchis (Diego Valdés, 72’), Aldo Rocha, Rodrigo Millar (Carlos Fierro, 83’), Edison Flores; Miguel Sansores, Carlos Ferreira (Irven Avila, 62’)
Scoring: Club Tijuana - Antonio Nava (53’), Fabián Castillo (72’); Monarcas Morelia - Miguel Sansores (39’, 84’), Sebastián Vegas (60’)
Disciplinary: Club Tijuana - None; Monarcas Morelia - Carlos Ferreira (Yellow - 34’), Emanuel Loeschbor (Yellow - 47’), Diego Valdés (Yellow - 80’)