Eighth-seeded León took a big lead in this series with a 3-0 victory against Tijuana. The Xolos entered the playoffs on the back of two consecutive losses, and they looked out of form and out of sorts tonight.
León looked much the better side from the opening whistle and they had their first good chance in just the 5th minute, when Michael Orozco cleared the ball off the line to keep the game goalless.
But the hosts kept pressing and they found the breakthrough in the 11th minute. Elías Hernández got free on the right and sent in a cross that Mauro Boselli headed home to make it 1-0.
Just five minutes later, it was 2-0. Hernández sent in a corner kick, Diego Novaretti headed it on, and Fernando Navarro got a touch to it to direct the ball past Federico Vilar.
The Xolos just couldn’t get into the game, and León could have run the score up even further before halftime. In the 30th minute, Luis Montes nearly scored a golazo, but the woodwork denied him.
But the third goal would come in the second half. In the 61st minute, Hernández once again earned an assist as he found Germán Cano at the far post. The Argentinian made it 3-0.
Tijuana never looked particularly likely to reduce the deficit, and they registered just two shots on goal all game. León has a significant advantage, but there is still a second leg to be played.
Tonight’s 3-0 result means that a win or draw in Saturday’s second leg will see León advance, as will a one- or two- goal loss. Tijuana needs to win by a minimum of three goals to survive to the semifinals; if León scores, they’ll need to win by four due to the away goals tiebreaker.
León: William Yarbrough, Efraín Velarde, Guillermo Burdisso, Diego Novaretti, Fernando Navarro (Juan Ignacio González 79′), Luis Montes (Hernán Darío Burbano 86′), Alexander Mejía, Elías Hernández, Leonel López, Germán Cano, Mauro Boselli (Maximiliano Moralez 79′).
Tijuana: Federico Vilar, Juan Carlos Valenzuela, Damián Pérez, Michael Orozco, Víctor Aguilera, Kevin Gutiérrez (Víctor Malcorra 45′), Guido Rodríguez, Avilés Hurtado (Juninho 65′), Gabriel Hauche, Milton Caraglio, Dayro Moreno (Henry Martín 65′).