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Bicampeones! Atlas conquers Liga MX for second straight title.

Pachuca got a 2-1 win but it wasn’t enough as Atlas got a 3-2 aggregate win for their second consecutive Liga MX championship.

FBL-MEX-PACHUCA-ATLAS Photo by CLAUDIO CRUZ/AFP via Getty Images

Pachuca got a 2-1 win over Atlas but it couldn’t make up for their 2-0 loss in the first leg and Atlas won their second straight title. Atlas, who hadn’t won a title since 1951, became the third team to win a Bicampeonato (two straight titles) since the short season became the official tournament length in Mexico. Pumas was the first team after winning the Clausura and Apertura titles in 2004, and Leon became the second when they won the Apertura 2013 and Clausura 2014 titles. It was a great series and an exciting match that overcame a bad referee job from Fernando Hernandez. Coach Diego Cocca becomes the first coach in Atlas history to get two titles, which is a great accomplishment from a former player of the club while Pachuca’s coach Guillermo Almada loses his second final in Mexico.

The first half started with both teams coming out with their best eleven and only Pachuca making a change by getting Oscar Murrillo to replace Mickey Tapias as a starter. After a couple of even minutes, Pachuca opened things up with a great run. Romario Ibarra made a great play to get past Javier Abella and Anderson Santamaria, and then got into the area and got a great right footed shot past Atlas’ goalkeeper Camilo Vargas for the 1-0 lead in the match and bringing the hosts to 2-1 on aggregate. It was only the seventh minute, and Pachuca had picked up the first goal and only needed one more to tie the aggregate score. Atlas answered immediately and almost scored off of a free kick when a the ball fell to Edgar Zaldivar, who got off a shot that Gustavo Cabral cleared off the line. The game was very exciting, with Pachuca going all out and Atlas being dangerous on their counters. There was a controversy when Erick Sanchez fell in the area after an apparent tackle by Santamaria, although replays showed that there was contact, Sanchez fell after taking another step with the same leg. Referee Fernando Hernandez went to VAR (after wasting a lot of time) but he made an offside call to Ibarra so as to not have to judge the play in another dubious call from him. After Abella got the ball in the area, he got off a shot that looked to have hit the hand of Daniel Aceves, but Hernandez missed the call. He again went to VAR, and gave Atlas the penalty kick. Julio Furch stepped up to take the penalty, and his right footed shot went past Pachuca’s goalkeeper Oscar Ustari for the 1-1 equalizer in the match and returning Atlas’ two goal lead on aggregate. Pachuca needed to come back, and they did in the final play of the half. Off of a throw in, Victor Guzman tried to cross for seconds but couldn’t get off the ball until he finally was able to get the cross and it was a great cross that found Nicolas Ibañez, who got off a great header past Vargas for the 2-1 lead and bringing Pachuca back within one goal on aggregate. It was a late strike at the perfect moment for Pachuca, who now once again was looking for the single goal to force the game to extra time.

The second half started late because the referees couldn’t get their communications with VAR in order. Pachuca had a chance when Aviles Hurtado got off a shot that was saved by Vargas. Pachuca came incredibly close when Erick Sanchez got a cross into the area that was deflected by Luis Reyes, and the ball inches from the line but it went wide. Pachuca subbed out Daniel Aceves and Aviles Hurtado for Bryan Gonzalez and Fernando Navarro. A left footed shot from Luis Chavez went past Vargas, but it also went wide. Pachuca missed another chance when Ibañez got the ball in the area and his right footed shot went well wide. Atlas started to be more defensive and better at stifling Pachuca, who were not getting as much possession as in they had in the first half. A left footed shot from Chavez almost got deflected to a Pachuca player, but it was cleared by Atlas’ defense. Pachuca subbed out Romario Ibarra for Roberto de la Rosa. After a foul from Anibal Chala on Guzman, the Hernandez again went to VAR and decided to give Chala the red card in yet another controversial decision. Later Gonzalez got a wide open header, but he didn’t connect well and Vargas easily got the ball. Atlas then subbed out Julio Furch for Gaddi Aguirre. Meanwhile Pachuca subbed out Erick Sanchez for Jesus Hernandez. Pachuca kept trying to get that goal, but couldn’t get close and they were running out of time. The ball bounced in the area but Ibañez couldn’t get a header past Atlas’ defense. After Pachuca lost the ball, Chavez would make a harsh foul on Julian Quiñones that won him a yellow card. That play ended the chances of Pachuca and time ran out giving Atlas their Bicampeonato.

Atlas repeats as Liga MX champion with a good performance on the regular season, but like the season before, with a very good Liguilla participation. There were controversies throughout, but overall they were the better side in the series they played. Atlas was the most prepared team for most of the series until the Final, where Pachuca were able to counter them. In the end however, they faltered in the second half and ran out of ideas while Atlas was a very solid defensive team throughout. Key players like Furch, Quiñones, Vargas, Aldo Rocha, and some solid youngsters like Jeremy Marquez, Jonathan Herrera, and David Barbosa have made the team the most balanced in Liga MX and given them the titles that for so many decades eluded them. Atlas is a worthy champions and for such an historic team, they are at their best moment in their history.