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Tampico Madero battle back to win first Liga de Expansion title.

Tampico Madero defeats Atlante by a score of 3-2 in the last minutes of extra time.

Atlante v Tampico - Final Liga Expansión 2020 Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images

Tampico Madero twice came back from going down to get a 3-2 away victory against Atlante and win the first Liga de Expansion title. It came down to the final minutes of extra time before a penalty kick stopped the possibility of a penalty kick shootout in the 119th minute. Tampico Madero surprised an Atlante team that was favored at home and who twice took the lead only to make mistakes and have the win slip through their fingers. Tampico Madero thus becomes the champion in the first Liga de Expansion season.

The first half started and unlike the play of the first leg, it was Atlante who came out on the offense. After a couple of minutes the game became very even with no clear opportunities from either team. After a defensive run, Atlante’s defender Edson Partido fell, looking like he injured himself. He had to be subbed out for Carlos Lopez. After a couple of more even minutes, things started getting testy with Antonio Lopez getting into a small discussion with Jonathan Sanchez. The game continued to be even, but with a very poor level of play even for a Liga de Expansion game, more so with it being the final. The first true dangerous opportunity came all the way into the 40th minute when Atlante’s Edgar Alafitta had a header that was saved by Tampico Madero’s goalkeeper, Joel Garcia. After the play, Tampico Madero started to get their better offense with a couple of good attacks but none of them finished with a single shot. The first half ended putting fans everywhere out of their misery after 45 minutes.

The second half started with either team needing to win it as to avoid extra time. Tampico Madero had their first shot on goal when Daniel Lajud got a left footed shot that Atlante’s goalkeeper Humberto Hernandez easily handled. Later Jose Avila came close with a header, but it went wide. Tampico Madero came close again with a Jose Hernandez header off a free kick. Slowly Tampico Madero had gained control of the possession. Then off a free kick, Jonathan Sanchez rose to head a ball past Joel Garcia to give Atlante the 1-0 lead. It was the first dangerous opportunity for Atlante in the second half. Tampico Madero tried to answer back and after a couple of attacks, and it finally paid off. In what was by far the best play of the game so far, Daniel Lajud made a great play and got off a cross that was deflected by Antonio Lopez past Hernandez and into the path of Jesus Salas, who connected into the empty net for the 1-1 tie. Both teams tried to attack, but failed to make a good opportunity. No team scored again and the ref blew the whistle for extra time.

Extra time started with both team trying not to get to a penalty shootout. Atlante came close to scoring when a shot by Luis Garcia forced goalkeeper Joel Garcia to punch the ball, but he did a bad job of it and almost allowing a open net shot. The ball however was cleared by a defender after Jose Juan Garcia failed to strike it after Jonathan Sanchez headed it back. Atlante continued to attack and had a two-on-two counter attack, but Luis Garcia’s shot was blocked by a defender. The second half of extra time whistle was blown and strangely both teams were allowed to get team meetings when it’s supposed to just switch halves. A minute in, Atlante had a great opportunity when a cross fell to Jonathan Vega, who got a right footed shot that was saved by Joel Garcia. Unfortunately for him the rebound fell right back to Vega, who then tried to got another shot, this time left footed, and Garcia did a terrible job as he tried to save the ball with his left hand and only send it into the net for the 2-1 lead for the home side. It was a bad mistake as Garcia got surprised as he looked to be expecting a cross and instead sent the ball into his net, although it should be a goal for Vega instead of an own goal. Tampico Madero needed to react and they were able to do so. Off a free kick, Diego de Buen made a great cross that found Jesus Salas, who headed it past Hernandez to draw the teams level at 2-2. Salas, who came in the second half, had become the hero for the Northern team. Atlante looked rattled and Tampico Madero took advantage of the boost. A shot from Daniel Lajud came close but it was minutes later when Jonathan Sanchez tripped Manuel de Jesus giving a penalty to Tampico Madero. Diego de Buen took the kick from the spot and blasted a right footed shot past Hernandez for the 3-2 and the lead for the first time in the game and a minute from the end of the match. Atlante tried to get the tie but it was too late, and they never got a shot on goal and Tampico Madero was able to get the title and win the game.

After a horrid first half the Liga de Expansion Final improved, especially after the first goal. Tampico Madero gave a great performance to twice come back and get the win. Although Diego de Buen will be the hero for his performance in the season and getting the winning goal, it was the great impact from substitute Jesus Salas that was key as he twice got the tying goal. Tampico Madero thus surprised an Atlante team that was favored and had played well all season but crumbled at the most important time. Thus Tampico Madero took their opportunity and writes their name in the history books as the first champion of the Liga de Expansion.