Tomorrow we’ll have the first Liga MX final between Pachuca and Toluca. Although they have faced each other many times in past Liguillas, this will be the first final between two teams that were the surprise teams in the 2000s, where these low level market clubs became the best teams in Mexican football. Among some of their extense history, there is one that has kind of been forgotten. Back in the 2000-01 football year, Pachuca and Toluca played each other in Matchday 1 of the Invierno 2000 and Verano 2001 seasons and provided some of the most lively goal scoring games to start both seasons.
Toluca came into the season as the current champions after having the biggest victory in a final during their glory years of the late 90’s to early 2000s. It was their 3rd straight Verano title, and wouldn’t get another until the Apertura 2002, along with a few more during the 2000s decade, ending with the 2010 summer chip, their last Liga MX title. But at that time, they had just crushed Santos 2-0 in the 1st leg and 5-1 in the 2nd to clearly be the Liga MX champions and started their defense in Pachuca. Against the Tuzos, they took a commanding 3-0 lead. Yet Pachuca bounced back and got a 3-3 tie on the back of the players who had given Pachuca their Liga MX title in Invierno 1999. It looked like they had shocked the champs but a bad giveaway allowed Manolo Martinez the 1 vs 1 against keeper Miguel Calero, and Toluca got their 4-3 victory. Toluca would continue the season having a solid performance and go to the Invierno 2000 final where they faced Morelia. In a PK shootout at Toluca, Morelia would win their only Liga MX title in franchise history.
Although not the champions, Toluca came up as a current finalist to the Verano 2001 and thus heavy favorites once again to start the season. Pachuca, however, came up and shocked Toluca with a great performance to take the win. Pedro Pineda had his best match as a Tuzo with a hat-trick and Pachuca took a 5-1 lead at one point, ultimately ending 5-3 after a small Toluca rally. To the shock of most fans, Toluca would have a terrible season and finish near last place and out of the postseason. On the other hand, Pachuca went to the Liguilla where they shocked favorite America in the semifinals and got to the final. But just like Toluca the season before, they would lose the final against Santos Laguna.
Those were two great season openers. In a weird coincidence, both winners went on to eventually get to that season’s final, but both would lose. Yet a season later, Toluca and Pachuca would end up facing each other in the semifinals where another great clash would happen.
Invierno 2001 - Semifinals 2nd leg
In a great semifinal game and after a 1-1 tie in the 1st leg in Pachuca, there was going to be another shock when Pachuca would take their 2nd consecutive semifinal upset to get a 4-2 win in Toluca and clinch the ticket to the final. This time though, things would change and Pachuca would end up getting the 2001 Invierno final after surprising Tigres with a 2-0 win in the 1st leg in Pachuca, followed by a shocking 1-1 away tie in Monterrey. The goal is famous for a long range shot from Walter Silvani, who had scored the final goal in Toluca. So, while many people might not remember a time where Pachuca and Toluca had some of the best matches in Mexican football, the reality is they were among the best matches and based on what they’ve shown so far in this liguilla, it’ll be a great final in the newest chapter between each other.