Liga MX playoff spots start filling up

Toluca, Cruz Azul and Leon confirmed their places for the playoffs in Mexico’s first division during the penultimate round of matches in the Apertura season on the weekend.

League-leading scorer Pablo Velazquez equalized with a late penalty in Toluca’s 1-1 draw against Atlas on Sunday, while Cruz Azul defeated Morelia 1-0 and Leon drew 1-1 against Tigres on Saturday to join league-leaders America and Santos Laguna in the playoffs.

In other weekend results, America drew 0-0 with Queretaro to secure top spot, Chiapas moved into sixth place with a 2-1 win over Santos Laguna, Tijuana overcame Atlante 4-1, Monterrey routed Veracruz 3-0, Chivas defeated Pumas 1-0, and Puebla’s slim playoff hopes faded after a 1-1 draw with Pachuca. Abraham Carreno scored the equalizer in second-half injury time for Pachuca.

Cruz Azul needed 77 minutes before Joao Rojas scored the clincher against Morelia, firing in from short range after goalkeeper Federico Villar had parried a header.

Morelia had a chance to equalize in the 82nd, but Joel Huiqui was judged to be offside when he headed in.

Mexico international Carlos Pena leveled for Leon in the 72nd when he latched onto a pass and shot from the edge of the penalty area, canceling out Juninho’s penalty for Tigres in the 29th.

Argentine Dario Benedetto netted twice for Tijuana, including a first-half goal, before his team went down to 10 players when Fernando Arce was sent off.

Angel Sepulveda equalized from the penalty spot just before halftime, but goals from Cristian Pellerano, Raul Enriquez and Benedetto’s second took the game beyond Atlante, which had Sergio Perez sent off in the 71st.

Chile international Humberto Suazo scored in the 21st and 78th for Monterrey, with Neri Cardozo getting the other goal in the 45th in the lopsided win over Veracruz.

Chivas picked up only their second win of the Torneo Apertura on Sunday, 1-0 against Unam Pumas to leapfrog their fellow strugglers in the table.

Rafael Marquez Lugo scored the only goal in the 12th minute and his side held on for three points.

Puebla’s slim playoff hopes faded after a 1-1 draw with Pachuca, who played the last half an hour with 10 men.

Efrain Cortes was sent off in the 59th minute and it looked like being costly when Matias Alustiza scored in the 81st.

But Pachuca were given a penalty in the last minute and substitute Abraham Carreno converted.

Toluca also got a 1-1 with Atlas in the day’s other game, Pablo Velazquez’s penalty cancelling out Omar Bravo’s opener.