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Cruz Azul clinch top spot and send Morelia into a tailspin

Cruz Azul defeated Morelia 2-0 and will now finish the regular season in first place

Morelia v Cruz Azul - Torneo Apertura 2018 Liga MX Photo by Refugio Ruiz/Getty Images

Cruz Azul defeated Morelia 2-0 to get to 36 points and clinch the top spot in Liga MX in the final game of the regular season. With the win, the closest team to La Maquina, América, won’t be able to catch them regardless of the result in their final game against Veracruz. While the win helps cement Cruz Azul’s great play in the season, it sends Morelia into tailspin. With the loss, Morelia ends with 25 points, which means that both Queretaro and Pachuca are a win away from knocking Morelia from the 8th spot and out of the liguilla. Both of them will be facing teams already eliminated and so the odds are against Morelia going through to the Liguilla.

Cruz Azul faced a tough game in Morelia as they looked to finish on top for the first time since 2014. They were playing away against a Morelia team that was playing for their Liguilla lives as they were in the number 8th spot and marginally above two other teams. To make matters worse, because of the short time since the last Mexico game, Coach Pedro Caixinha had said that no Cruz Azul player that participated in the game would start, which meant that goalkeeper Jose de Jesus Corona, as well as Julio Cesar Dominguez and Roberto Alvarado, would be in the bench.

The game started tough for Cruz Azul and backup keeper Guillermo Allison had to make a great save off a header to stop a shot in what would be the best opportunity in the first half. While Morelia was playing for their playoff hopes, they were never very cohesive and failed to create much danger, which meant that the first half ended being a very physical game with not much offensive danger from either side.

The second half had Cruz Azul subbing on Alvarado and going for more attacking play. In his first very big chance, a great combination play with Elias Hernandez left Alvarado clear on to make a pass to Martin Cauteruccio. Upon receiving the ball, Cauteruccio weaved his way past a defender before scoring the opening goal.

Morelia tried to come back and were close to equalizing, but Irven Avila missed a good chance. Then off a corner kick, Pablo Aguilar found himself wide open to head in the 2-0.

Morelia had no choice to go all out in attack and would be unlucky to hit the post, as their final opportunity went begging and Cruz Azul got the clear victory to clinch top spot in Liga MX.

Cruz Azul’s victory is the icing on the cake of a great regular season. Now comes the tough part, with the talks of the “curse of the superlider” rounding about. Still, Cruz Azul are a solid team that should be one of, if not the biggest, favorite to win the title.

On the other hand, this loss is tragic for Morelia. They are not only waiting on other results, but results that look unlikely. Pachuca will be at home and facing an already eliminated Leon. Moreover, Leon just happen to be owned by the same group (even though Pachuca’s owner claims that it’s a different entity because it’s owned by his son, not him), something that used to raise everybody's alarm when it happened under Televisa teams in the 90s. Finally, they will also have to worry about Queretaro. The Gallos Blancos will be at home and facing a Necaxa team that is already eliminated and has even less points than Leon. It seems the writing might be on the wall for Morelia this time.