Club Tijuana’s Ariel Nahuelpán was named Liga Bancomer MX Player of the Week for Jornada 17 by a poll of Liga MX English-language writers and broadcasters.
In the last weekend of the Liga MX regular season, only one game mattered as far as the liguilla was concerned. Xolos, who were one point ahead of La Franja on the table, needed only a tie to reserve their seat in the playoffs. Puebla, however, needed a victory away from home.
It all came down to these 90 minutes, and in the end, it was Tijuana who stood tall with the help of its 6’3” striker.
Nahuelpán had a goal and an assist as Tijuana crushed Puebla, 4-0, on Saturday at the Estadio Caliente.
In the 68th minute of the match, after Xolos had already taken a 2-0 lead, Nahuelpan received the ball outside of the box, cut inside to his left foot and launched a missile right into the back of Nicolas Vikonis’ net. At this point, Tijuana’s playoff qualification was inevitable.
Four minutes later, Nahuelpan would have the ball again in a similar position. This time, though, he gave it up to teammate Gustavo Bou, who dummied the Puebla defender marking him and placed the ball perfectly in the top-right angle of the goal. At this point, Tijuana’s playoff qualification was guaranteed.
The former Pachuca and Pumas striker worked all over the pitch for Xolos. He dished out 19 accurate passes (82 percent), two key passes, three accurate long balls, had two defensive clearances and won nine of his 16 duels. He also earned himself an 8.5 match rating from SofaScore.
Nahuelpán’s performance lead Xolos back into the Liguilla for the first time after a one-year absence. Tijuana hasn’t been to a Liga MX final since it won its first and only title in the 2012 Apertura.
Oscar Pareja’s team will be tested against top-seeded Leon in the Liga MX quarterfinals. Those matches will be played on Wednesday, May 8 and Saturday, May 11.
Nahuelpan is the third player from the Baja Californian club to receive POTW honors. Goalkeeper Gibran Lajud took the title for Jornada 3, while fellow Argentine Gustavo Bou won it last weekend for Jornada 16.
For more information on Liga MX and to keep up with the Player of the Week poll, follow @FMFSoM on Twitter.