A fantastic opening round that saw eight teams that were relatively evenly matched face off against one another. with defensive battles and an offensive shootout. The teams that bowed out should all be proud of their performances in this stage despite the finality of he ultimate results.
(1) Monterrey 1, (8) Atlas 0 - On paper, this series shouldn’t have been close. Monterrey came into the Liguilla after setting all sorts of regular season records, notably for wins and points. Atlas was in by virtue of a better goal differential than Monarcas. Still, Atlas gave a fantastic account of themselves, holding Rayadas scoreless in the first leg and conceding only one goal in Monterrey. In the 48th minute of the second leg, Diana Evangelista took the ball from the halfway line, cutting from the right touchline toward center and weaving through the Atlas defense. Ana Gaby Paz rushed off of her line to close down the angle, and Evangelista shot over the sliding goalkeeper. The ball hit off of the post on her right, caromed over and hit off of the post on her left, and she put her own rebound in. Atlas did all that they could to try to get the equalizer, but just couldn’t make it happen.
(2) Tigres UANL 3, (7) Tijuana 0 - It was never going to be easy for Tijuana, but like Atlas they gave a good account of themselves against a team from Monterrey that was supposed to walk all over them. Xolos held Tigres scoreless at Estadio Caliente, but eventually surrendered three goals in the return leg. Jackie Ovalle broke the deadlock in the 59th with a golazo, cutting from the right side of the box and hit shot that curled inside of the far post. In the 68th, Belén Cruz tried crossing a ball into the box but it took a deflection off of defender Leyla Zapata and caught goalkeeper Itzel González wrong-footed and went in. Katty Martínez added an exclamation point in the 81st minute when she hit a shot from inside the box on a break. Despite the loss, Tijuana’s defense looked very good for long stretches of this series and they should be a force to be reckoned with going forward.
¡En este equipo #Qu3r3mosS3rL3y3nda y ayer lo demostramos! Y para que disfrutes este puente en familia te compartimos, desde la lente de nuestra #TigreCam, cada uno de los goles que nos tienen instaladas en la Semifinal. ⚽️⚽️⚽️— Tigres Femenil (@TigresFemenil) November 19, 2019
RT Si volviste a gritarlos! ️ pic.twitter.com/2v7dzjQ7Ux
(3) Pachuca 5, (6) Toluca 3 - This was the best series from a purely entertainment standpoint. Pachuca raced out to a 4-1 lead at the end of the first leg. In the 18th minute, Lizbeth Ángeles played an excellent through ball to put Viridiana Salazar in on goal and Salazar didn’t miss. In the 35th, Salazar and Ángeles played a great give-and-go in the 35th minute that wound up with Viri getting her second of the evening. Toluca would grab one back a minute later when Karime Abud hit a screamer from distance that goalkeeper Alejandria Godínez could only wave at. In the pouring rain of the 67th minute, Yanin Madrid hit a cross into the box for Salazar that missed the mark, but was able to find its way in on goal and past Alondra Ubaldo to make it 3-1 Pachuca. Ana López was able to get to a scuffed shot in the box and hit it past Ubaldo in the 83rd minute, ending the match at 4-1.
In the return leg in Pachuca, Toluca looked to be the better team for much of the match. Salazar got her third of the series in the 41st minute when she got her head onto a free kick, knocking it past Ubaldo. Toluca grabbed one back in the 50th minute when a defensive mistake allowed Kenya Téllez to go in on goal. Her shot was tipped by a sliding Godínez, but Abud was there to tap the ball in. In the 57th Toluca was awarded a penalty for a handball in the box. Mariel Román’s penalty was stopped by Godínez but Román was able to get to the rebound and knock it home, But that’s as close as Toluca would get, and Pachuca moved on.
(4) América 3, (5) Chivas 0 - The Clásico Nacional didn’t disappoint as América avenged the loss in the 2017 Apertura Liguilla to their eternal rivals. In the second minute of the first match, Daniela Espinosa set the tone when she stripped the ball off of a defender, went straight into the box, and hit a shot past Blanca Félix to put América on the board. In the 26th minute, Jenn Muñoz hit a thunderbolt from distance that rocketed into the back of the net to extend América’s lead. Chivas was finally able to settle down and get some pressure going, but the visitors held their ground and returned to CDMX with the lead.
In the return leg, Chivas was the better side for a lot of the match, but in the 40th minute Mónica Rodríguez hit a ball centrally that Dani Espinosa was able to redirect into the net. Chivas couldn’t break through the América defense, and ultimately were unable to get anything from the match.
(1) Monterrey vs. (4) América - Ida: Friday, November 22; Vuelta: Monday, November 25
(2) Tigres UANL vs. (3) Pachuca - Ida; Thursday, November 21; Vuelta: Sunday, November 24