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Pure mayhem as Leon and Morelia have an exciting start to the Liguilla

Morelia and Leon tied 3-3 in a game that had goals, red cards and even ref stoppages because of the chant.

Morelia v Leon - Playoffs Torneo Apertura 2019 Liga MX Photo by Jaime Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images

Morelia and Leon started the Liguilla with a bang as there was offensive display that had six goals in a 3-3 tie. The game also had a controversial aspect with two red cards and the referee stopping the game because of Morelia’s fans doing the goalkeeper chant. The ref undid the good of the stoppage by giving a lot of injury time, in which Morelia got the final goal for the draw. Leon has the advantage as they return home for the second leg but the advantage wasn’t as strong as the 3-2 win that looked to be set in stone before the injury time. Both teams will now travel to Leon for the second leg of the quarterfinal of the Liguilla.

Within the first two minutes of the game there was a controversial call. After Juan Jose Macias’ shot went wide, the referee went to the VAR and awarded a penalty to León. After the protest from Morelia, Macias stepped up and took it and scored to make it 1-0 early.

It didn’t take long for Morelia to get back in it. In one of their first attacks and with Leon down to ten men because of Macias being injured, Edison Flores got the ball outside the area and he got off a rocket of a left footed shot that went past Leon’s keeper Rodolfo Cota to tie the game 1-1.

Things got worse for Leon when it was clear that Macias wasn’t going to be able to come back from the injury and had to get subbed out in the 15th minute, with Leonardo Ramos coming on for him.

Things did turn around when Angel Mena made a great play and got off a surprising right footed shot that went past Morelia’s goalkeeper Sebastian Sosa for the 2-1 lead.

Morelia tried to come back immediately and they got it when a cross was poorly cleared out by William Tesillo. Flores got to the ball and got another left footed shot. This time inside the area for the goal and the 2-2 draw.

Morelia got a boost from the equalizer, and they kept at it with more possession as Leon countered. Morelia came close to a third goal when Miguel Sansores had a chance in the area but Yairo Moreno heroically deflected his shot. Morelia then came close again with another shot in the area that a Leon defender had to clear. Eventually, Leon held on and at halftime, and after a very exciting first half, the score was tied.

The second half started and it didn’t take long for the offensive display to continue. In a great counter attack, Leonardo Ramos made a great pass to Fernando Navarro, who made a spin move and lobbed the ball over keeper Sosa for the 3-2 lead for Leon.

Things got worse for Morelia a minute in when Gabriel Achilier got his second yellow card after a slap to Ismael Sosa, leaving Morelia with ten men. But Morelia came close to scoring with a header from Fernando Aristeguieta before Mena came close to adding a fourth for Leon.

Morelia almost gifted Leon the fourth goal when Sosa made a terrible mistake by dribbling with the ball and losing it to Luis Montes, whose shot almost went in, just going wide by inches from the empty goal.

Then in a controversial play, Yairo Moreno got his second yellow card after a foul on Aristeguieta. Replays showed that it was Aristeguieta who went into the already jumping Moreno and it shouldn't have been a yellow card, but it didn’t look like VAR was consulted.

The referee then made a Liga MX first by pausing the match for a warning because of the homophobic goalkeeper chant, the first time ever in Liguilla. A couple of minutes later, the fans did it again and the referee this time stopped the game and had the players sit out in the clubhouses.

The game started again (with 12 minutes of extra time), and in the last minutes of stoppage, Aristeguieta almost had a chance but his shot was blocked by the Leon defense. Then in the next minutes, a Morelia cross found Luis Angel Mendoza, who dived in and headed it past Cota for the 3-3 draw. It was a great play, but Rodolfo Cota should have done better on it as he did a terrible job when the ball went very close to him.

Morelia still had time to get off some long range shots that didn’t come close to troubling Leon, but in the end adding the time from the stoppage boosted Morelia as they rose up during the extra time.

The first game of the Liguilla was a great example of the best and the worst of Mexican football. The offensive set up of both things gave way to an exciting game for 90 minutes. Yet the fouls and more importantly the terrible behavior from the Morelia fans, as well as the fact that Monarcas may have benefited from the stoppages caused by the homophobic chant, means that the end will be controversial and hamper what was an enjoyable performance from both teams.

Leon and Morelia will now go to Leon for the second leg with Leon having a three goal advantage in away goals, but a loss by any score will give Morelia the ticket to the semifinals.