Queretaro almost shocked everybody by coming within just one goal from getting to the Semifinals. Ultimately, they weren’t able to hold on, after going down a player just prior to halftime, and eventually falling 3-2 against Necaxa. Queretaro had a 2-0 lead and were at home, looking like they were going to be able to turn things around until the red card changed things completely. Necaxa got a lifeline after a disappointing performance in the first half and they were able to take advantage on the second, with their 3-0 lead from the First Leg coming up big once they got their first away goal.
The first half started with Queretaro trying to go on the offense and with the urgent need to score goals. After a first attack that fizzled, they would not take that long to score when on the third minute, a cross by Ayron del Valle was headed in by Marcel Ruiz for the 1-0.
Queretaro kept at the offense and were close before a Necaxa defense cleared a cross that would have found Ake Loba. Queretaro then struck again when a bad clearance from Necaxa’s defender Fernando Meza, allowed a wide open Jeison Lucumi to get to the ball and head it past Necaxa’s goalkeeper Hugo Gonzalez. 20 minutes in and Queretaro had a 2-0 lead and was 1 goal away from getting their ticket to the semifinals.
Off a counter attack, Queretaro came close to scoring when Escoboza’s shot got blocked by Gonzalez with his right foot. But Necaxa looked to finally get a chance when Querataro’s keeper Gil Alcala was forced to make a save, though the play was ruled to have been offside.
Despite having more possession, Queretaro stopped creating dangerous chances, and as a result, Necaxa was able to make the game more even. The Rayos then had a good chance when Ricardo Chavez had a header that went wide. Then in the final minute of play of the first half came a play came that changed the game completely. After Del Valle had a good opportunity in the area that he inexplicably decided to play back, to Luis Romo, Romo almost lost the ball and crashed into a Necaxa player, giving a foul. Although the ref had first given just a yellow card, he went to VAR and decided to give Romo a red.
Queretaro still had one chance before halftime when Loba’s shot got saved by a diving Necaxa defender. The halftime whistle blew with a scuffle between Cristian Calderon and a couple of Queretaro defenders. Queretaro went into halftime only needing one goal but totally deflated because of the red card.
The second half started with Queretaro subbing on Omar Arellano for Clifford Aboagye. Queretaro had a couple of chances early on like a cross that was just out of reach of Loba and a chance for Escoboza, in which he was wide open but his shot went wide. Necaxa, on the other hand, had two great chances when first they forced Alcala to make a save from a shot from Juan Delgado and then hitting the post with a shot from Felipe Gallegos.
Minutes later they would hit the post again with another shot, and Mauro Quiroga then wasted the rebound. At this point, Necaxa was having one of their better moments of the game and were making the 11 vs 10 advantage count.
Then, Necaxa almost had their first goal when Jesus Ricardo Angulo was alone in the area but his shot was brilliantly saved by goalkeeper Alcala. However, in the corner kick from that play, Queretaro made a terrible defensive job and allowed a wide open Cristian Calderon to head the ball past Alcala for the 2-1 and basically end the series.
Queretaro now needed two goals and to not allow Necaxa to score another one to go through. Things were officially done when after Angulo got a ball in the area, he found Gallegos who got off a shot past Alcala for the 2-2.
Queretaro now had to score 4 goals in 5 minutes, and soon, things got worse. Jordi Cortizo had a shot saved by Gonzalez to try to make things even but a minute in, Maxi Salas (who had been subbed on minutes earlier) was allowed time to take a shot that went past Alcala for the 3-2 for Necaxa. Queretaro had called it quits, the defense allowing Salas time to get the shot and Alcala making a mistake in the shot.
As soon it went to 90 minutes, the ref whistled for the game to end and Necaxa were through.
Necaxa must be proud of their performance overall but must count themselves incredibly lucky. The game looked like it was all for Queretaro up until Romo’s red card. That the captain got red carded eventually killed the game for Queretaro, who tried but couldn’t keep up physically. Necaxa have exceeded expectations this season and will be a tough team, maybe favored in the next series, but they will need to pick up as Queretaro made it easy for them in the first leg, while Romo did it in the second leg. That’s luck that might not repeat itself this season.