Atlas hit the brakes on Chivas’ good run of form with a 2-1 win in the first leg of their quarterfinals series. Interim Coach Ricardo Cadena had won all of his matches with Chivas before Atlas ended that streak on Thursday, as Atlas handled Chivas well. They were the most prepared side, and now return home against their biggest rival with the advantage that even a one goal loss on Sunday will still give them the ticket to the semifinals of Liga MX.
The first half started with both teams coming out with their best teams as they hoped to start their campaign well, although Atlas was missing injured Anderson Santamaria but had the return of Aldo Rocha while Chivas had Jesus Ricardo Angulo out for the rest of the season after his injury against Pumas needed surgery. 20 seconds in Chivas had a great chance when Roberto Alvarado got into the area, but his shot went wide in a play where he should have done better. Chivas had more possession, but Atlas was defending well and looked dangerous on the counters. Luis Reyes almost made a bad mistake, but was able to clear the ball from the area just before Alvarado was about to steal it. Then after a great play by Julian Quiñones, he got past his defender and got off a shot that was blocked by Chivas’ goalkeeper Miguel Jimenez, but it went right into the path of Jeremy Marquez who hit a right footed shot past Jimenez for the 1-0 lead. Atlas had done well in defending, and with a great play they now had surprisingly taken the lead. Chivas tried to bounce back knowing they would be in big trouble with a loss at home. Fernando Beltran got off a right footed shot, but Atlas’ goalkeeper Camilo Vargas was well placed to easily save it. Then off of a throw in, Luis Reyes sent it into the area where Julio Furch headed a pass to Jeremy Marquez, who between three Chivas’ defenders was able to get off a right footed shot past Jimenez’s arms for the 2-0 lead. Atlas had struck twice perfectly, and had Chivas reeling. The halftime whistle blew and Atlas was totally shocking Chivas with a important lead.
The second half started with Chivas subbing out Eduardo Torres (who had an awful match) and Pavel Perez for Sergio Flores and Jose Juan Macias. Atlas had a great chance when Anibal Chala made a great pass to Furch in the area, who then got past a defender but his shot was blocked by Jimenez, who made a great run to get to his feet and stop the shot. Then off a corner kick, the ball was headed all the way to Cristian Calderon, who then turned around and got off a left footed shot that went through the hands of Vargas to make it 2-1. Replays showed that it was a possible offside, but the ref ruled that and Atlas player had headed the ball backward to Calderon, who then got the goal that placed Chivas right back into the match. After a bad back pass from Carlos Cisneros, Jimenez incredibly headed the ball and left it there for Quiñones, but his pass to Furch was bad and it was cleared, as Chivas was very lucky that Atlas didn’t take advantage of that terrible mistake. Chivas wasted a great chance when a longball went all the way into the area where Calderon was able to get off a left footed shot that Vargas saved. Calderon had gotten to a one-on-one, and replays showed that Vargas made a great play as the ball his him straight in the groin. Alexis Vega looked to be injured and had to be subbed out for Angel Zaldivar. Furch was able to win the ball and get to the area, but his left footed shot was easily saved by Jimenez. Atlas subbed out Aldo Rocha for Edyairth Ortega. Chivas continued to try to get the tying goal, but they were running out of ideas and being without Vega hurt them considerably. Atlas had to sub out the injured Edgar Zaldivar for Jonathan Herrera. Atlas had a good chance when Quiñones got into the area, but his cross for Furch was blocked by a sliding Hiram Mier. Chivas then subbed out Fernando Beltran and Cristian Calderon for Cesar Huerta and Miguel Angel Ponce. Minutes after coming in Ponce had a harsh tackle against Ortega that earned him a red card. The referee went to VAR and corrected himself, and only give him a yellow card although it was somewhat controversial call. Alvarado then made a great run into the area and got off a right footed shot that went past Vargas, but went just inches wide just like the play at the start of the match. Atlas subbed out the injured Anibal Chala for Cristopher Trejo. Off a free kick, Macias got a great shot that forced Vargas to make a good save. Chivas had improved in the second half, but it wasn’t enough and Atlas took the key three points.
Chivas chose the wrong time to end their winning streak in a match against their city rivals, and with the need to get the win in the aggregate to get through to the Semifinals. Atlas looked to be better prepared and although Chivas had improved, they hadn’t faced a team as good or as prepared as Atlas was on Thursday. With the win, Chivas now needs to not only win on Sunday but to do so by two or more goals. With how tough Atlas’ defense has been so far and with Chivas having their best player in Vega with a possible injury, it looks like they went from serious candidate for the title to one of the most likely teams to end their season this weekend.