The Liga de Expansion Apertura 2021 ended on Saturday night in historic fashion as Atlante won their first Liga de Expansion title, grabbing a 3-0 win over Tampico Madero. A spirited second half had all three goals of the Liga de Expansion final scored in front of the raucous Atlante crowd. The popular Mexico City team was able to strike at key times against a Tampico Madero team who made many mistakes, and whose lack of a good result in the first leg ended up costing them. Atlante becomes the third different team to win a Liga de Expansion title in the three tournaments since rebranding from Ascenso MX.
The first half started with Tampico Madero coming out with Nahum Gomez instead of Joel Perez, while Atlante had Duilio Tejada starting over Armando Escobar. Eduardo Perez had the first chance when he got a ball in the area and got off a close range shot, forcing Atlante goalkeeper Humberto Hernandez to make a good save. Atlante then had a good chance when Tejada got the ball in the area and got past Madero’s goalkeeper Marco Millan, but he couldn’t control the ball after that and it went wide. After a terrible mistake by a Tampico defender and Millan, Ramiro Costa was able to win the ball off of the goalkeeper’s feet but the ball was deflected wide. It was lively game and although the level of play wasn’t necessarily great, it was a lot better than in the first leg. A long ball cross almost turned into a shot when Millan tried to grab it and did so by crashing into the top post. Diego Hernandez then had the best play of the match when he got off a left footed shot from outside the area, and the ball bounced off of the post. Atlante responded when Rolando Gonzalez got off a right footed shot from outside the area, and the ball went just wide. Atlante subbed out Nahum Gomez for Joel Perez. There would be no more chances and although the game was more exciting, there still hadn’t been a single goal so far in the three halves of the Liga de Expansion Final.
The second half started with both teams looking to score for the first time in the final. Tampico had a great chance when a cross by Diego Medina found Aldo Lopez, whose one time shot was well saved by Hernandez. Atlante responded with a great long ball, and Ramiro Costa went past his defender to get a one-on-one against Millan. With a well placed left footed shot, Costa was able to get it by Milan for the 1-0 lead for Los Potros. After a strong foul, Cesar Bernal got a yellow card although replays showed that it could have been a red card as Atlante players protested. Tampico Madero then made a terrible mistake and pay for it dearly, After getting pressured Bernal lost the ball in the area to Juan Dominguez, who then made a pass to a wide open Ramiro Costa, who got another left footed shot past Millan for the 2-0 lead. It was a key goal, and it looked like the series was over in a flash. Tampico Madero subbed out Carlos Robles and Jesus Bernal for Luis Loroña and Luis Flores. A shot from Christian “El Hobbit” Bermudez from outside the area was deflected wide in another good opportunity for Atlante. Tampico Madero then looked to have scored, but the goal was correctly called off as Perez (who made the pass) had failed to keep the ball in play. Atlante subbed out Ramiro Costa for Joaquin Hernandez. Atlante kept pressuring, as the goal had livened up the team and the crowd. After a cross by Bermudez, Joaquin Hernandez rose to get a header that forced Millan to make a good save. Atlante then subbed out Juan Dominguez for Bryan Mendoza, while Tampico Madero subbed out Gio Hernandez for Jared Simental. Then after Tampico lost a ball, another counter attack started and this time a cross into the area was headed by Bermudez for the 3-0. It was a strange and iconic goal, because Bermudez’ nickname is “Hobbit” because of his short stature. The fact he scored with a header is something nobody would have thought at the start of the night. It was also historic because Bermudez came through and had his best years in Atlante, returning to close out his career there, so him scoring was very special. Tampico Madero continued to try to score and after a left footed shot was judged to have been handled by Elbis Sousa, they were given a penalty kick. Eduardo Perez took the penalty, and with a terrible right footed shot he missed it after it went straight into a diving Hernandez. If the three goal lead hadn’t killed the match already, missing the shot from the spot was the final nail in the coffin. Atlante subbed out “Hobbit” Bermudez, Edson Partida, and Duilio Tejada for Brian Figueroa, Francisco Reyes, and Alfonso Tamay. Tampico Madero kept at it, but it was too long a river to cross for them and Atlante held on to get the win and the title.
As the team that finished in second place during the regular season, Atlante was able to crown their successful season with the title. It was a lackluster first leg for both sides, but they completely turned around for the second leg. Still it was only the second half of the second game when the goals came, and with Atlante taking advantages of bad mistakes by Tampico Madero, the two quick goals by Costa settled the match in which Bermudez goal and the missed penalty killed it for Atlante. Atlante will now hope for a repeat in the Clausura where, as the most historic and most popular team in the Liga de Expansion, they might have a great chance for a repeat performance.