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Match recap: Tijuana 2, León 1

Even when everything seemed to go right for Xolos, they still weren’t able to grab on to an opportunity to make it into the Liguilla.

Tijuana v Leon - Torneo Apertura 2019 Liga MX Photo by Gonzalo Gonzalez/Jam Media/Getty Images

Tijuana needed a win desperately, but despite creating multiple opportunities they weren’t able to finish and will be out of the Liguilla. León improved their standing for the Liguilla race with the three points

Xolos’ manager Óscar Pareja made significant changes to the lineup, with Miller Bolaños suspended and Kevin Balanta and Ariel Nahuelpán starting on the bench. Leonel Miranda, Fernando Arce, Jr., and Cesar Falletti started in their place.

The action early on was back and forth and fast. Xolos had a good chance in the fifth minute when a cross was sent in from the right side by Cesar Falletti but was swallowed up by Rodolfo Cota. At the other end, Joel Campbell led a break downfield in the eighth minute but rushed his shot.

The game eventually slowed a bit from the frenetic pace, with the sides looking to retain possession. León tried stretching the field vertically to varying degrees of success, while Xolos’

In the 20th minute, Fernando Navarro played a great ball forward to Ismael Sosa, who hit a great shot, beating Gibran Lajud to the far post.

León almost had another in the 24th minute when a sloppy play out of the back by Xolos lead to a turnover deep, but JJ Macías’ shot went wide of the net. The good fortune would seemingly be rewarded minutes later when a cross into the box resulted in a scrum and Vladimir Loroña wound up knocking the ball into the back of the net. After a video review however it was judged to have hit off a player’s arm and was disallowed. The crowd voiced their displeasure, with the goalkeeper chant making an unfortunate return.

Xolos would be undeterred however, having a couple of good chances but failing to convert on them. In the 42nd they were able to break and a cross found a trailing Loroña, but his shot was stopped by Cota. As the clock neared 45 minutes, Cota found himself in real trouble when he stopped a shot from distance but couldn’t control it. The resulting shot at the open net was stopped by a slide tackle from a defender.

At the half, León made two substitutions, seeing Macias and Ángel Mena come off for Luis “Chapo” Montes and Leonardo Ramos. In the 53rd, Sosa would get in on goal and Gibran Lajud would come out and make a sliding tackle. Lajud got more man than ball, and a penalty was whistled. The referee went to VAR and confirmed the call. Ramos stepped up and converted the penalty

Things went from bad to worse in the 57th when Leonel Miranda stepped on the back of Navarro’s ankle and was shown a straight red card. With the player advantage, León was able to press forward more while Xolos were left largely begging for scraps.

In the 70th minute, Andrés Mosquera would land awkwardly on the turf and would wind up being stretchered off of the pitch. Mosquera was the third sub for León, who would now play the rest of the match down a player. Xolos brought on Ariel Nahuelpán to help jumpstart the offense, and immediately he was able to create a shot on goal.

There was a bit of controversy in the 86th minute when Camilo Sanvezzo went down in the box. The referee went to VAR and ruled it was a penalty. Sanvezzo stepped up and buried the penal to give Xolos a lifeline.

The sight of the fourth official awarding nine minutes of added time pushed Xolos on, with their entire season hanging in the balance . Xolos would press and press, and then deep into stoppage time the referee stopped the match due to multiple audible instances of the goalkeeper chant. When the match restarted, Xolos had a great opportunity to score but couldn’t get the shot on target. Upon the attempt to restart the crowd started the pre-chant roar, and the referee grabbed the ball and called time, ending Xolos season not with a bang but instead with a whimper.

Tijuana: Gibran Lajud; Vladimir Loroña (Omar Mendoza, 80’), Julián Velázquez, Aldo Cruz; Mauro Lainez (Ángel Sepúlveda, 68’), Ignacio Rivero, Fernando Arce (Ariel Nahuelpán, 78’), Leonel Miranda; Cesar Falletti, Camilo Sanvezzo

León: Rodolfo Cota; Osvaldo Rodríguez, Juan González (Andrés Mosquera, 66’), Miguel Herrera, Fernando Navarro; Joel Campbell, Jean Meneses, Iván Ochoa, Ángel Mena (Leonardo Ramos, 46’); José Juan Macías (Luis Montes, 46’), Ismael Sosa

Scoring: Tijuana - Camilo Sanvezzo (88’ - penalty); León - Ismael Sosa (20‘), Leonardo Ramos (55’ - penalty)

Disciplinary: Tijuana - Gibran Lajud (Yellow - 55’), Leonel Miranda (Red, 57’), Vladimir Loroña (Yellow - 61’), Diego Braghieri (Yellow - 93’); León - Osvaldo Rodríguez (Yellow - 59’)