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Despite valiant effort, Juarez downed by Toluca; Diablos Rojos move on to QF

The Red Devils were able to come back from their slow start against the Bravos and booked their ticket to the Quarterfinals.

Toluca v FC Juarez - Playoff Torneo Apertura 2022 Liga MX Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images

Juarez made their way into the postseason thanks to other results throughout the league, so they knew it would be tough when visiting Toluca. The visitors put up a tough fight, but in the end could not keep up and Toluca secured their spot in the Liguilla.

The border city had a fast start to the game and made sure to let Toluca know they were not going to take it easy on them. In only the second minute of the game, Jesus Dueñas took a shot towards goal that went wide; a few minutes later, Maxi Olivera took a shot from midfield to try to catch goalkeeper Tiago Volpi off his line, but the shot went wide as well. Soon after, Juarez had yet another opportunity to score when Dueñas sent a ball into the box and Alejandro Arribas got his head on it, but it hit the crossbar and Toluca got saved.

That’s how the first 20 minutes transpired. Juarez looked like the better team and had multiple opportunities to open the scoring, but could not convert. Toluca had some great moments but were stopped by the defense. That was until the 23rd minute, when the home team was on the attack and Carlos Gonzalez made his way up the center and passed the ball to Camilo Sanvezzo, who had no problem shooting from outside the box to go up 1-0.

A few minutes later, Juarez had the opportunity to tie the game, but a shot from Dario Lezcano went wide and so did another by Dueñas a few minutes later. Juarez could go into halftime knowing that even though they were down a goal, they played a great first half and would have every opportunity to tie and even win the game in the second.

Well, that was Juarez’s plan, but Toluca had other ones. It only took 18 seconds into the second half for Leonardo Fernandez to take the ball up the side and send it into the box for Gonzalez to tap it in and put the hosts up 2-0.

Even down by two goals, Juarez did not give up and continued to play the way they did at the beginning of the game. If not for Toluca goalkeeper Volpi, Juarez could have pulled a goal back and even tied the game potentially. Volpi was able to make some incredible saves, but the best one came in the 73rd minute when Juarez were awarded a corner. Arribas headed the ball toward goal but, Volpi was there to make the save. No doubt if the ball went in, it would’ve given hope to the visitors and maybe, just maybe the result would have been different. Toluca almost went up a goal a few minutes after that save, but Sanvezzo’s goal was rightfully called offside, and Juarez were saved, for the moment. Six minutes of stoppage time was all that was separating Toluca and a quarterfinals ticket. They decided to put the nail in the coffin in the ‘90+1 minute when Marcel Ruiz took the ball up the field and found Daniel Alvarez, who flicked it back to Ruiz, who then put the ball past Alfredo Talavera for the third goal of the day.

Juarez were just no match for Toluca in the end. The visitors only scored 17 goals in the regular season and knew they would essentially need a miracle to move on. Crazier things have happened, so it wouldn’t have been that shocking if it did. Now, Toluca moves onto the Quarterfinals where they’ll face a Santos Laguna club who were undoubtedly the dark horse of the top four.