Rayados roll into semifinals
It was hard to find the perfect play to sum up Monterrey's 4-1 victory over Atlas, which gave the team a 6-2 aggregate victory over Atlas and a relatively easy ticket to the semifinals. Was it the goal in which an Atlas defender took out his own goalkeeper to allow Aviles Hurtado to find the back of the net?
Had the key moment come earlier when Rogelio Funes Mori opened the scoring with this stunner, eliminating nearly any hope Atlas had of pulling off a comeback?
Or the earlier goal from Hurtado that nearly broke the net and made clear Monterrey wasn't going to take its foot off the gas until at least the halftime break?
Ultimately they speak in their totality. That's exactly what Monterrey's win was. It was total domination. It was a very good Rayados team that both can score and protect its net (though Atlas did manage to score in both legs thanks to Sunday's penalty) against an Atlas team that struggled throughout the season and never seemed likely to pull off a shock upset of the top seed.
Monterrey was able to play the style it loves playing against Atlas, taking advantage of errors at the back caused by pressure, playing low-percentage but incisive passes and shooting when the opportunity presented itself. Rayados continue on a collision course with the Tigres team that knocked it out of last tournament's postseason for a Clasico Regio final. Unlike Tigres, Rayados got out of this round looking like the dominant team it was during the season. Antonio Mohamed will have a bit of concern about Carlos Sanchez and Dorlan Pabon both coming off with an injury. Losing both right-sided players would be a blow for Rayados, but as they showed once again Sunday if there's any team in the league with the attacking depth to cope it would be Mohamed's men.
America in with drama, without goals
Club America didn't score but did advance to the semifinals to face Tigres after scoreless draws in both legs of its series with Cruz Azul. Each side had chances to score but through a combination of embarassing misses and good saves, neither could find the back of the net.
With a single goal for Cruz Azul likely sending La Maquina through, America goalkeeper Agustin Marchesin was the Man of the Match at the Estadio Azteca, making three saves including denying Felipe Mora from a header in the first half.
Later, the Argentine again shut down Mora, this time using his legs to stop the Chilean from scoring what would've been a decisive goal.
Cruz Azul fans will be frustrated that their side had opportunities and wasn't able to take advantage. The conservative approach manager Paco Jemez took in the first leg now looms even larger. When they look back on the season, though, getting back to the postseason after the league's longest drought may be enough for this to be a positive year if the squad is improved.
"I'm really proud of my team. Super proud. I think we had a great season and we had a good series against a great team like America," Jemez said in his post-match news conference. "It could be that both teams deserved to go through but only one team can go through and that's America by rule. I think both teams were very equal. I'm really proud of the work my players put in to compete in the playoffs against one of the best opponents there is in this league."
If America is eliminated at the next stage, the club's fans will view the season as a somewhat of a failure, as the side seemed to celebrate its excellent middle portion of the season and has been suffering from a hangover. The team is keeping clean sheets but the dynamic attack that had appeared is now gone. If America wants to get past Tigres and into the final, it needs to snap out of it. Hydrate, sweat it out and get on with it. Oribe Peralta and Silvio Romero both were ineffective Sunday, and Las Aguilas have scored two goals in their last five matches across all competitions. If America can't score, the team won't have any more games to play.