MEXICO CITY ( Associated Press) — Luis Reyes and Julian Quiñones scored the goals that put Atlas one step away from retaining its title in Mexico’s Clausura tournament, beating Pachuca 2-0 in the first leg of the final on Thursday.
Reyes, a left winger, joined the attack and scored the first goal of the game in the 26th minute, while Quiñones, a Colombian striker, made a great individual play to extend the lead to the locals in the 90th minute.
Another Colombian, goalkeeper Camilo Vargas, contributed a handful of key saves, which have the Atlas with a clear chance of becoming only the third two-time champion since the short tournaments were established in the country in 1996.
To achieve this, any tie or defeat, even by one goal, is enough next Sunday night at the Hidalgo stadium in the central city of Pachuca.
Pumas (2004) and León in the Apertura 2013 and Clausura 2014 are the only teams to endorse a crown in short tournaments.
“We have a goalkeeper who knows how to get goal situations, we have a defense that is also very tough and we have strikers who do not stop looking for the rival goal”, valued the Argentine coach of the Atlas, Diego Cocca. “It’s a prize for our players who never stop attacking… I’m very happy with the result, I think we had a very good result, which could have been different”.
Pachuca, who was the leader in the regular tournament, needs a win by difference of two scores to send the game to extra time.
In the final, unlike the previous stages, the position in the table during the regular season is not taken into account as a tiebreaker.
Los Tuzos, led by Guillermo Almada, are looking for the seventh title in their history, the first since 2016.
“In the return leg we have to correct the definition, even though there is a lot of merit from their goalkeeper, Camilo Vargas… and make what we did in the second half more sustained,” said the Uruguayan Vargas. “We have to correct some distractions that cost us the goals”.
Atlas took the lead when José Abella sent a cross from the right into the area where Reyes appeared to connect a powerful header that left Argentine goalkeeper Óscar Ustari static.
The Tuzos reacted and created dangerous plays with shots from Kevin Álvarez at 29 and 45 minutes, both contained with difficulty by goalkeeper Vargas, who was once again a figure in stoppage time by rejecting a header from Víctor Guzmán.
In the complement, the Foxes had a great opportunity with a volley shot by Argentine striker Julio Furch that went to the side.
Pachuca flirted with the tie at 57 with a shot from outside the box by Argentine striker Nicolás Ibáñez that crashed into the crossbar.
Los Tuzos were dangerous again with a shot from Álvarez that went wide in the 68th minute.
The visiting team dominated the final minutes, but no longer seriously disturbed the goal defended by Vargas.
Atlas extended their lead in stoppage time when Quiñones took a ball down the right flank, took out two defenders and converted with a powerful shot through the center of Ustari’s goal.