Down a goal and having been thoroughly outplayed on Thursday, Toluca looked like they would continue the Superlider curse as they hosted Tijuana in the second leg of the 2018 Liga MX Clausura Semifinals. It was Xolos would would look to be cursed, being thrashed 4-1 by the Red Devils while having two Xolos players sent off.
The teams picked back up where they left off with the physical play, as Tijuana’s Damián Musto was whistled for a foul on Pablo Barrientos just 40 seconds in just outside of Gibran Lajud’s box. On the ensuing free kick, Rubens Sambueza’s shot just missed the far side of the net.
Toluca was on the front foot early, with Luis Quiñones ripping a shot that went just high of the net at the three minute mark. At the top of the seventh minute, Gibran Lajud made a diving save on a header from inside the box. A minute later however, Fernando Uribe would get his head on a ball that would beat Gibran Lajud and Toluca would have the early lead.
Tijuana would find their offensive footing a bit after the Diablos Rojos’ goal. In the 13th minute, Xolos were awarded their first free kick, but it went well high of Alfredo Talavera’s goal.
Toluca did well to retain possession and keep pushing for a second goal. Tijuana wasn’t able to mount much in the way of an offensive threat in the first part of the match. Their passes weren’t crisp and didn’t connect, which could be partially chalked up to playing at altitude in Toluca (which Google says is 8,750’ higher than Tijuana).
In the 26th minute, Gustavo “Pantera” Bou hit a bending free kick that whistled just wide of Tala’s net.
In the 30th minute, Uribe would double his total when he was played in on a great ball from Rubens Sambueza. Uribe chested the ball to himself and hit an overhead kick past Lajud to give the hosts an insurance goal.
¡GOOOOOL! (30’) | ¡No-no-no, No es un GOL, es un GOLAZOOO! Fernando Uribe como los DIOSES.⚽— Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports) May 13, 2018
Gran asistencia de Sambu ✌. y Uribe de CHILENA @TolucaFC 2-0 @Xolos (3-2) #TOLvsTIJ pic.twitter.com/td1rffTv2h
Minutes later, Toluca almost added another when Barrientos rifled a shot in on goal, but Lajud made a fantastic save to keep the visitors in the match.
Things would go from bad to worse for Xolos when Luis “Quick” Mendoza picked up his second yellow card of the match and was sent off for a very late challenge. While Mendoza has been an asset for Tijuana especially in the absence of Juan Iturbe, his two cards in arguably the biggest game of his career were both deserved and completely unnecessary.
As referee Fernando Guerrero blew his whistle to signify the end of the first half, Tijuana looked completely out of ideas. With time on their side, Toluca however looked content to sit back and let the visitors try and figure it out.
In the 47th minute, Quiñones drove down the left and hit a cutback pass toward the center of the box. Lajud made a stop on it but the ball went to Uribe, who just missed his shot wide to the left.
¡CERCA! (48’) | ¡Lo que te perdiste! Solo te la perdonamos por el GOLAZO de CHILENA que ya marcaste.@TolucaFC 2-0 @Xolos (3-2) #TOLvsTIJ— Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports) May 13, 2018
Sigue el encuentro aquí https://t.co/CxjwHdKcz5 pic.twitter.com/T5cciCCzpU
In the 54th minute, Toluca was hitting long sweeping passes to wear down the clock when Barrientos swung a pass centrally to Antonio Ríos who hit a rocket on goal. Lajud got his fingers on it and the ball smashed into the crossbar and back out.
Tijuana was able to get a decent breakaway in the 60th minute when Pantera Bou was sprung through but Tala played it perfectly to clear away the danger.
Things got even worse for Tijuana when in the 61st Miller Bolaños went in studs up and hard on Sambueza’s calf. It was an absolutely awful tackle and he was deservedly shown a red card.
Just when it looked like Tijuana was done, they were given a lifeline when Luis Chávez hit a fantastic free kick that beat Tala and put the visitors within one.
¡GOOOOLAAAZOOO! (66’) | ¡Que manera de cobrar un tiro libre! Luis Chávez con un toque perfecto y dejando sin chance a Talavera marca el descuento para Tijuana.@TolucaFC 2-1 @Xolos (3-3) #TOLvsTIJ pic.twitter.com/JcilS0jfyR— Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports) May 13, 2018
Toluca would keep applying pressure against the nine men in black. Uribe almost had a hat trick in the 71st minute but was adjudged to have been in an offside position.
¡Fuera de Lugar! (66’) | Uribe marca el tercero pero NO es válido por posición adelantada.@TolucaFC 2-1 @Xolos (3-3) #TOLvsTIJ— Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports) May 13, 2018
Mira el partido EN VIVO https://t.co/CxjwHdKcz5 pic.twitter.com/j27oUiiUg9
Just minutes later Barrientos would try his luck but Lajud would make the solid save on the shot.
(74') | Los Diablos Rojos buscan sentenciar el partido, pero se encuentran con una pared llamada LAJUD@TolucaFC 2-1 @Xolos (3-2) #TOLvsTIJ— Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports) May 13, 2018
Sigue el encuentro aquí https://t.co/CxjwHdKcz5 pic.twitter.com/ifS7vUY73u
Xolos both got lucky and proved their ability when in the 80th minute Barrientos hit a shot that (luckily for Xolos) smashed off of the post. The rebound fell to Uribe, whose shot was well saved by Lajud.
(74') | Los Diablos Rojos tuvieron dos oportunidades claras para marcar el tercero, pero el poste y LAJUD con una salvada increíble lo impiden.@TolucaFC 2-1 @Xolos (3-3)— Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports) May 13, 2018
Síguelo en VIVO https://t.co/CxjwHdKcz5 pic.twitter.com/K4zHsHkhwz
Xolos luck would run out though when in the 86th minute Uribe was sprung in on goal. He chested the ball down and hit an arcing shot over Lajud to put the final nail in Xolos’ hopes of adding a second star this season.
¡GOOOOOL! (85') | Hermosa recepción de pecho y con una definición de CRACKS, Fernando Uribe consigue su Hat-Trick y Toluca va a la final.@TolucaFC 3-1 @Xolos (4-3) #TOLvsTIJ pic.twitter.com/IEuyjqfsSe— Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports) May 13, 2018
Barrientos would add another in the 88th minute when he was played in on Lajud. Barrientos tucked his shot under Lajud’s torso and in for Diablos Rojos’ fourth of the afternoon.
Toluca will face the winner of the Club América - Santos Laguna series for the 2018 Liga MX Clausura Championship.
Game: Deportivo Toluca Fútbol Club S.A. de C.V vs. Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente
Date: Sunday, May 13th
Time: 1:00 p.m. Eastern, 12:00 p.m. Central, 10:00 a.m. Pacific, 5:00 p.m. UTC
Venue: Estadio Nemesio Díez (Toluca, Edomex.)
Referees: REF: Fernando Guerrero Ramírez, AR1: Alberto Morin Méndez, AR2: Pablo Israel Hernández Luna, 4TH: Oscar Macías Romo
Series record: Tijuana leads 2-1 after the first leg at Estadio Caliente on Thursday night. If the aggregate ends in a draw, Toluca will advance due to their higher seeding.
Toluca FC: Alfredo Talavera; Cristian Borja, Santiago García, Osvaldo González, Rodrigo Salinas; Antonio Ríos, Leonel López (Jorge Sartiaguin, 69’); Luis Quiñones (Angel Reyna, 75’), Pablo Barrientos (Gabriel Hauche, 90’), Rubens Sambueza; Fernando Uribe
Club Tijuana: Gibran Lajud; Damián Pérez (Ignacio Malcorra, 82’), Juan Carlos Valenzuela, Pablo Aguilar, Omar Mendoza (Luis Chávez, 46’); Damián Musto, Miller Bolaños, Ignacio Rivero (Julio Angulo, 77’), Luis Mendoza; Gustavo Bou, Juan Lucero
Scoring: Toluca FC - Fernando Uribe (8’, 30’, 86’), Pablo Barrientos (88’); Club Tijuana - Luis Chávez (66’)
Disciplinary: Toluca FC - Fernando Uribe (Yellow - 9’); Club Tijuana - Luis Mendoza (Yellow - 13’, Yellow - 37’), Juan Carlos Valenzuela (Yellow - 34’), Pablo Aguilar (Yellow - 36’), Miller Bolaños (Red - 61’)