Atlante was able to get their third straight 1-1 result in the first leg of the Liguilla and in the start of the first Liga de Expansion Final. Atlante had also gotten 1-1 ties in the first leg of their quarterfinal match against Pumas Tabasco and their semifinal matchup against Atletico Morelia. In this final against Tampico Madero however, they won’t be able to win the title with a tie like they did in their prior series. Yet it’s a great result as they return home. Tampico Madero meanwhile will be disappointed in failing to get their three points at home, but they showed to be a tough team and at times were better than Atlante. The final will be played on Sunday.
The first half started with both teams coming out with their all Mexican starting lineups. Tampico Madero being the home team was expected to come out swinging and got a corner kick after a minute but wasted it. After a couple of attacks that didn’t end well, Tampico was finally able to get through when a great pass found Joel Perez, who went through the middle and got a shot past Atlante goalkeeper Humberto Hernandez for the 1-0 lead for Jaibos. After the goal, the match started to get testy (something common in Liga de Expansion) with Atlante’s Jonthan Vega getting a notable cut after a clash with a Tampico Madero player. Atlante had their first big opportunity when Luis Garcia got alone into the area but his shot was saved by Tampico Madero’s goalkeeper, Joel Garcia. Minutes later Garcia once again broke thru and got off a shot that forced Joel Garcia to make a great save. After a strong start from Tampico Madero, Atlante took control of the match as they looked for the tying goal. After a run, Tampico’s Diego Medina looked to have injured himself. Although he tried to continue, minutes later he fell to the floor and had to be subbed out for Kevin Lara. In Injury time of the 1st half, once again Luis Garcia got a great opportunity that forced Joel Garcia to make a save.
The second half started with Atlante needing to get back on the offense to get a tie. Like in the first half, Tampico Madero started to attack first but it was Atlante who had the first chance when Joel Garcia had to run to cut a ball before Ronaldo Gonzalez got to it for what would be a tap in had Garcia not gotten to the ball. Atlante made their first move by subbing in Lizandro Echeverria for Jonathan Vega. Atlante had a good chance off a corner kick when Jose Juan Garcia got a free header, but it went straight to Joel Garcia’s arms. Then off a corner kick, Luis Garcia got a header that Tampico Madero’s defender Cesar Bernal deflected right into the path of Jose Juan Garcia, who got a left footed shot past Joel Garcia for the tying 1-1 goal. After the goal, Tampico Madero started to attack and soon gained control of the possession in the game as Atlante started to sit back. To get back they subbed out Joel Perez for Daniel Lajud. Although Tampico Madero was pushing Atlante into their area, they had few ideas and most of their attacks were handled well by Atlante’s defense. Atlante subbed out Ronaldo Gonzalez for Pablo Gomez. Still there was no time left after that and the game ended with a tie.
Like the Liga MX final, the first leg ends with a 1-1 tie. Atlante came in as the favorite and got a great result with an away tie but they will need to step up at home. After getting 1-1 ties in both their Quarterfinal and Semifinal games, they went home get 0-0 ties in both series and went through to the next round because of their better record in the regular season. Yet for the Ascenso final, there needs to be a winner in the series and a tie will only turn eventually into a penalty kick shootout. Tampico Madero had a great start but ran out of fuel and will now be the underdogs in the return leg. Still they showed a lot at time and the final is anything but decided. It looks to be a great game on Sunday as the first Liga de Expansion season ends.