The Apertura 2018 playoffs continue this Thursday with the first leg of the Gran Final between Cruz Azul and América.
The final is a two-legged, home-and-away series (although in this case both legs are being played at the Estadio Azteca, which Cruz Azul has been sharing with América this season) decided by aggregate score.
Unlike in the prior rounds of the playoffs, away goals are not tiebreakers, nor is seeding. If the second leg of the final finishes level on aggregate, the game will go to extra time and then penalties if needed.
América has advanced to the Apertura 2018 Liga MX final after a comprehensive 6-1 victory in the second leg of their semifinal series against Pumas UNAM. That result gave the Águilas a 7-1 aggregate victory.
The series had been anyone’s to take after a 1-1 draw in the first leg on Thursday, but América made short work of Pumas in their home leg this Sunday. The Águilas took the lead just 7 minutes into the game, when Renato Ibarra scored with a low shot that Alfredo Saldívar got a hand to but couldn’t keep out.
Cruz Azul has advanced to the Apertura 2018 Liga MX final after beating Monterrey 1-0 in the second leg of their semifinal series. The 1-0 Cruz Azul win tied the aggregate series score at 1-1; with away goals equal at zero apiece, La Máquina advanced with the higher seed tiebreaker.
It was not an easy victory for Cruz Azul, who were obligated to win this leg after losing on Wednesday night. They came out attacking but were unable to find the breakthrough, while Monterrey suffered a blow with the loss of Roldofo Pizarro to injury in the 36th minute.
The Apertura 2018 Liga MX playoffs continue this week with the semifinal round. Three of the top four seeds made it through the quarterfinals – some with more difficulty than others – and now a spot in the Gran Final is on the line for the remaining teams.
The semifinals are a two-legged, home-and-away series decided by aggregate score. Away goals are tiebreakers; if both the aggregate and the away goals are level, the higher seed will advance.
The pairings are as follows:
Cruz Azul (1) vs Monterrey (5)
América (2) vs Pumas UNAM (3)
In the first leg of this historic Clásico Regio Gran Final, Tigres UANL and Monterrey played to a 1-1 draw. It was a hard-fought game in wintry weather, with both rain and hail falling over the course of the 90 minutes – conditions that didn’t deter the 41,602 fans who were present in the Volcán.
The visitors took an early lead from a set piece. In the 8th minute, Dorlan Pabón sent a corner kick to the near post, where Nicolás Sánchez nodded the ball on. Nahuel Guzmán couldn’t keep it out and Monterrey had the 0-1 lead.
The Apertura 2017 Gran Final is a historic affair, with regional rivals Monterrey and Tigres UANL directly contesting the Liga MX title for the first time. Although there have been Clásico Regios in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds of the playoffs before, this is the first time the Rayados and the universitarios will go head-to-head in the final.
Tigres finished the regular season in second and advanced past 7th-seeded León in the quarterfinals and 3rd-seeded América in the semis, while Monterrey was the superlíder and beat 8th-seeded Atlas and then 4th-seeded Morelia.
Tigres will host the first leg of the Gran Final on Thursday, while Monterrey will host the decisive second leg on Sunday.