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Leon wins their eighth Liga MX title after defeating Pumas

Leon got a 2-0 victory giving a title to the team who played the best during the regular season.

Leon v Pumas UNAM - Final Torneo Guard1anes 2020 Liga MX Photo by Leopoldo Smith/Getty Images

Leon lived up to their level of play where they were the best team during the regular season and defeated Pumas by a 2-0 score and 3-1 on aggregate. Coach Ignacio “Nacho” Ambriz finally got a Liga MX title after having done a great job during his tenure with Leon, in which they have been the best team during the season various times only to fall short in the Liguilla time and time again. Now they are champions after another season of being the best team in the league. Pumas meanwhile had a great performance that nobody expected when their head coach Michel left a week before the season started and never had a squad considered among the best. First time coach Andres Lillini had a great performance, although his naivete came up during this game.

The first half started with the return of Alfredo Talavera to goalkeeper for Pumas. Besides that move, the other changes where the return of Carlos Gutierrez after Juan Iturbe went to the bench because of his injury in the first leg. Leon had the same lineup as the last match, except for Jose Ramirez instead of Ivan Rodriguez, Emanuel Gigliotti starting over injured Joel Campbell, and Jose Ignacio Gonzalez (who is retiring after the season ends) taking Jaine Barreiro’s place after he was red carded in the first leg. Leon started the game on the offense and had a good chance with a free kick that came close to connecting with two Leon attackers. Later there was a play where it looked like Gutierrez handled the ball but, the referee judged it to be accidental. Minutes later Angel Mena looked to be injured but remained in the game after receiving treatment on his leg. Later off a good counter, Emanuel Gigliotti went past two defender and got a strong shot past Talavera’s hands for the 1-0 lead in the match and 2-1 lead on aggregate. While the shot was a strong one, Talavera should have done better and it was a bad mistake from the player who had been key in the season but hadn’t played since October because of his injury.

Minutes after the goal, Mena had to be subbed out because of his injury and Joel Campbell, who hadn’t been deemed fit enough to start came in, the lead benefiting the decision. Gigliotti got the ball in the area and got off a shot that forced Talavera to make a save. Pumas had their first dangerous opportunity when Carlos Gonzalez was able to head a ball to Juan Pablo Vigon, but a diving stop from Jose Gonzalez took the ball off his feet just before he could shoot. Pumas started to be more offensive and push Leon back, but their counter attack looked dangerous. Pumas came close once more when after a corner kick the rebound fell to Gutierrez, who took a shot that Juan Ignacio Dinenno deflected but Leon goalkeeper Rodolfo Cota was able to save the shot. Leon came close to scoring when a shot by Jean Meneses went just wide. Pumas made their first move when they subbed out Carlos Gutierrez for Juan Manuel Iturbe. Minutes later, Carlos Gonzalez got off a shot that forced Cota to make a good save. Off a free kick, Luis Montes crossed the ball into the area and forced Talavera to make a great save to clear the ball. Pumas had a good chance when a cross by Alan Mozo found Carlos Gonzalez in the area, but he lost the ball after he lowered it with his chest. In the last play of the half, William Tesillo rose to head the ball off a free kick but his header went wide. The ref blew the whistle and although Pumas had battled, Leon took a deserved lead to the locker room at the half.

The second half started and like in the first half, Leon came out attacking. Two minutes in they came close to scoring when Gigliotti took advantage of Nicolas Freire falling, getting off a left footed shot that Talavera deflected although the ref failed to give a corner kick. Pumas came close to leveling the score after a corner kick, where the ball bounced around in the area and twice came with the ball being cleared by Leon. The play ended with Johan Vasquez getting knocked out and falling unconscious in a terribly scary play. Luckily Vasquez looked to have regained consciousness when he got to the bench. Andres Mosquera, who Vasquez had crashed with, also looked dazed and had to be taken out by the medical staff of Leon. Vasquez was subbed out for Favio Alvarez, who was making his comeback from the quarterfinal first leg against Pachuca, where he got injured. Mosquera was left in the game and minutes later came close to getting red carded when he made a foul but even after going to VAR, it was only left as a yellow card. Later another controversy, happened when Favio Alvarez lost the ball and had to pull on the defender but wasn’t yellow carded, which would have been his second. Pumas made their final move by subbing out Leonel Lopez for Erik Lira. Leon came close again when after a great pass, Gigliotti got a free header but it went terribly wide and it would probably had been called offside had he scored. Pumas continued to try to score but Leon came close to adding onto their lead thanks to their counter attacks, especially since Andres Iniestra was moved to center back, a position he doesn’t play. Leon subbed out Joel Campbell and Jean Meneses for Yairo Moreno and Ivan Rodriguez, with both Campbell and Meneses looking like they were injured. Then in a terrible defensive play from Iniestra, Leon had a counter and Yairo Moreno made a great move that left Iniestra in the dust for the 2-0 lead in the match and 3-1 lead in the series on aggregate. The terrible move by Lillini of not subbing in Luis Quintana, a true center back, for Vasquez ended up costing Pumas dearly. Leon subbed out Gigliotti and Fernando Navaro for Nicolas Sosa and Jesus Godinez. The game looked finished and there was a scuffle between Juan Pablo Vigon and Jose Ramirez. Leon came close to scoring again when Luis Montes just failed to reach a ball that would have given him a shot in the area. Still Leon had time to get a one-on-one against the ball but Nico Sosa shot his ball straight to Talavera.

Leon was the better team during the season as well as in this series, and thus they more than deserved the title. They played their best during the regular season and ended up finishing as superlider. Although in the Liguilla they didn’t play as great as they did during the regular season, they were practical and were deserved winners in every series. Coach Nacho Ambriz finally got his title after being more cautious in the Liguilla but getting the results with that style of play. Pumas meanwhile had a great season which had fans proud of what their team. Yet fans will be less happy with the idea that the team is going to be dismantled because of their lack of funds, with Carlos Gonzalez and Juan Igancio Dinenno, their star strikers, likely leaving the club because of the need to sell to help with finances. Thus while with other teams who get to the final might feel that losing is just a hurdle, this looks like the last opportunity for Pumas for a while. Yet overall it was a great tournament and they should be proud of what they did. At this time the moment is all with Leon as they are deserved winners and a great team that finally got their due.