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Leon cruise into Liga MX final after defeating Chivas

Leon defeats Chivas 1-0 to get a 2-1 win on aggregate in the series and qualify to the Liga MX final.

Leon v Chivas - Playoffs Torneo Guard1anes 2020 Liga MX Photo by Cesar Gomez/Jam Media/Getty Images

After being the best team in the series and in the overall Liga MX season, Leon got their deserved spot in the 2020 Liga MX Apertura Final with a 1-0 win over Chivas. Coach Ignacio Ambriz had the perfect plan and gained the upper hand over Chivas coach Victor Manuel Vucetich, getting an early goal and later doing a huge job of managing the game. Chivas ends their season with a semifinal finish that could be a big boost to fans, but they faced a better team and the result was the expected one. Leon will now have to wait on a final in which they will play a Mexico City team, and it most likely will be Cruz Azul, who has a 4-0 lead into the 2nd leg.

The first half started with Chivas going out with both Alexis Vega and Jose Juan Macias, and also featured the return of Isaac Brizuela as they needed offense to turn things around. Less so for Leon, who went out without either Nicolas Sosa or Emanuel Gigliotti but were still expected to be very offensive as they have been all season. Not surprisingly, Leon had the first opportunities including a great chance in which a great cross by Jean Meneses was cleared from close range by Antonio Briseño. Leon continued to dominate and made a great play when Fernando Navarro found Angel Mena, who strolled into the area and was able to find Joel Campbell, who just tapped the ball into the net for the 1-0 lead in the match.

Leon continued to dominate possession and pressure a Chivas team that looked to be reeling from the goal. Leon came close again with a header, but it was ruled to be a foul. Chivas had their first opportunity in the 31st minute when Uriel Antuna made a run and sent a cross that found Jesus Molina, who got off a right footed shot that forced Leon’s keeper Rodolfo Cota to make a good save. Chivas had another dangerous chance when a low cross by Antuna almost got deflected into a Chivas player, but Navarro was able to clear the ball before that happened. Chivas had improved somewhat but Leon still looked in control as the ref blew the whistle for halftime.

The second half started and while Chivas needed the goal, once again Leon had the first opportunity when Meneses got a ball in the area and his shot forced Chivas’ keeper Raul Gudiño to make a save. Chivas got their first opportunity when Macias got a good backheel pass to Cristian Calderon, who tried to find Miguel Angel Ponce in the area, but he couldn’t get off the shot. Chivas had their best chance of the game when Calderon made a good longball pass to Antuna, who got off a right footed shot that hit the post. Chivas made their first moves by subbing out Cristian Calderon and Alexis Vega for Jesus Ricardo Angulo and Oribe Peralta. Chivas came close again with a right footed shot for Ponce that just went wide off the left post. Leon answered back quickly with a great cross by Luis Montes that Briseño had to clear from close range again. Chivas then subbed out Jesus Molina and Jose Juan Macias for Fernando Beltran and Alan Torres in a baffling move. The move meant that Oribe Peralta was the only forward up top when Chivas needed two goals regardless if Leon scored once more. Chivas had a good chance when Antuna had a cross that almost found Peralta, but Cota got the ball before he did. Leon started to sit back and wait on the counter, as they knew that Chivas needed to score and weren’t looking close to doing it. Chivas made their last move by subbing out Jesus Sanchez for Ronaldo Cisneros. Leon came close to scoring again when Angel Mena got a left footed shot that forced Gudiño to make a good save. Leon continue to sit back and Campbell almost scored, but his left footed shot went just wide. Chivas continued to attack but Oribe Peralta wasted a header. Leon made their first substitutions in the 87th minute when they subbed out Jean Meneses and Joel Campbell for Jose Gonzalez and Jesus Godinez. Chivas pushed Leon into their area, but they weren’t able to create much as Leon was prepared to defend. The last sub for Leon came when Luis Montes was subbed out and Ivan Ochoa was subbed in. Chivas never threatened after that and Leon got the deserved win.

Leon were clearly the better team in both the match and the series, and got a deserved ticket to the finals. They were the best team of the season in Liga MX, and their number 1 finish was very deserved. They should be the favorites to win the title, but the performance by Cruz Azul in the first leg will have a lot of people thinking they should be favored should they get past Pumas, as expected.

Chivas meanwhile failed to get to the final, and although they had a surprising finish as a semifinal team and they also eliminated their biggest rivals, fans might not be happy to have been dominated so clearly by Leon. Coach Vucetich had been giving good performances, but he left a lot to be desired with his management of the game, where they first lost the midfield in the first half and then had no forwards when they gained it back in the second half (which they did because Leon sat back, not by their play). Overall it will have been a positive season, but not quite what their fans wanted.