RECAP: WEEKEND MEXICAN ACTION
Joe Corona and Greg Garza were back in action for Tijuana, Francisco Torres did his best to spur the Pachuca front line, while Herculez Gomez, Benji Joya and their Santos 'mates were outplayed against Toluca.
Club Tijuana 2 - 2 Cruz Azul
Greg Garza started once again and Joe Corona came on as a second-half substitution for Club Tijuana in an entertaining draw with visiting Cruz Azul, to remain undefeated at Estadio Caliente.
With Edgar Castillo still ailing from a foot injury suffered during a training session with the US national team, Garza got the nod, putting in another satisfactory performance, which might spark a bit of debate when Castillo is healthy again.
However, things weren't easy for the Xoloitzcuintles, who were shocked by a Cruz Azul goal in just the fourth minute of play, when Cruz Azul midfielder Christian Giménez dribbled past six Tijuana players en route to firing a shot that was denied by Tijuana goalkeeper Cirilo Saucedo. The rebound came to the feet of Mariano Pavone, who fired before Saucedo could react, giving Cruz Azul the surprising early lead.
But, the Xolos are never ones to give up and pressed on the attack until finally drawing even in the 19th minute, when defender Pablo César Aguilar headed in a free kick from Leandro Augusto to ignite the crowd at Caliente.
Tied 1-1 at the half, both teams went all out in the second half, with neither team able to finish several terrific scoring chances.
Then, in the 65th minute, Colombian forward Duvier Riascos put the Xolos ahead on a penalty kick after he was brought down in the box by Luis Perea.
Cruz Azul would not relent, however, and Alejandro Castro nailed a superb goal off a direct free kick in the 75th minute that left Saucedo with no chance at all.
Garza went the full 90, while Corona came on in the 59th minute but was unable to help his team solidify a victory.
Although the draw brings Tijuana closer to securing a spot in the Liga MX playoffs, it dropped them to second place on goal differential, behind Toluca, who slaughtered Santos.
Pachuca 1 - 1 Monterrey
Although Francisco Torres failed to score for Monterrey in their draw with Pachuca, it wasn't for lack of trying. Pachuca came in to the match desperate for goals and victory, as the playoff window is quickly closing on them.
However, they were not prepared to be down after just one minute. Walter Ayoví sent a cross that found Aldo de Nigris in the box, who then fired on Pachuca 'keeper Rodolfo Cota, who managed to stop the shot, which rebounded to Ángel Eduardo Reyna, who shot the ball past a scrambling Cota.
The goal left Pachuca stunned, and didn't show any signs of life until 15 minutes later, when they finally began to lace together attacking plays.
Urged by the need to win, Pachuca increased their offensive pressure, attempting to create chances from every angle. But, their frustration just kept building as the team just wasn't able to finish their numerous opportunities.
In the second half, just a minute after de Nigris failed to increased Monterrey's lead, Félix Borja scored on a flying header, off an accurate centering pass from forward Raúl Tamudo, to breathe life into the stagnant Pachuca offense and the exasperated supporters at Estadio Hidalgo.
The goal energized Pachuca's attack, as they battled tooth and nail for their playoff chances. Héctor Herrera combined with Torres to create even more dangerous chances for Borja and Tamudo, who gave Monterrey's defense fits, but were unable to get that last shot off.
Borja had the best chance for the victory in the 75th, when he got past 'keeper Jonathan Orozco, but, with the open net could only muster a badly timed shot that missed the net altogether, to the astonishment of the Pachuca supporters.
The draw leaves Pachuca desperate and closer to the bottom of the table than a playoff spot, while Monterrey find themselves stuck in 10th place.
Toluca 4 - 1 Santos Laguna
Coming on as a second-half substitutes, Herculez Gomez and Benji Joya were unable to rescue Santos from the Hell of an awful thrashing from a fired-up Toluca squad, who reclaimed first place in the Liga MX.
There was very little Santos could do as they faced a barrage from the Red Devils, who took the lead in the 10th minute, when Wilson Tiago headed a pass over Oswaldo Sánchez, who was caught off his line.
Toluca made it 2-0 in the 28th, when Antonio Ríos took a pass from Lucas Antonio Silva and unleashed a blistering shot from the left side that Sánchez never had a chance of stopping.
Such was the Toluca dominance that even the defensive line got involved in the attack, when Diego Novaretti fooled several Santos players but was unable to finish on Sánchez.
Gomez came on to start the second half, but it was to no avail, as Santos found themselves down 3-0 in the 65th minute on another incredible goal by Toluca; a scissor kick blast by Luis Tejada that left the home crowd in hysterics.
Joya came on in the 63rd minute but his best attempts to generate any offense were smothered by the fierce Toluca deluge.
Nevertheless, Santos managed to avoid being shut out, thanks to Oribe Peralta, who took it upon himself to create his own chance, beating a Toluca defender and fooling 'keeper Alfredo Talavera to send the ball into the net in the 69th minute.
But Toluca was merciless and finished off the massacre in the 76th minute, when Silva displayed his dribbling skills, leaving Aarón Galindo and Iván Estrada in the dust before slamming a shot between Sánchez and the near post for the 4-1 final score.
Hoping to show they could compete for the championship, instead Santos were completely destroyed and will need to regroup before next week's match against Monterrey.
DaMarcus Beasley did not play in Puebla's 2-0 loss to Jaguares.
San Luis beat Atlas 3-2 but Michael Orozco stayed on the bench.