Cruz Azul are heading home with an away goal and a chance to advance past defending champions Club Leon after a solid performance on Wednesday night. They were outplayed by the hosts for much of the match, but only conceded once and will be slight favorites to advance in Liguilla after pulling out a 1-1 draw.
Mariano Pavone put the visitors up just four minutes in, capitalizing on an early free kick. Rogelio Chavez was credited with the assist for his lofted ball into the box from 35 yards out, which Pavone was able to get on the end of and head past William Yarbrough.
Leon answered quickly, with Jose Cardenas netting an impressive equalizer in the 21st minute. He picked up a first time flick from Mauro Boselli on the edge of the penalty area, took a step forward and hit an absolute rocket into the roof of the net from 18 yards, grabbing his team a deserved goal after a nice spell of play.
The hosts kept the pressure on for the rest of the match, but struggled to find a second goal. Cruz Azul goalkeeper Jesus Corona came up huge, making five saves on the night, and some of them were tough. His best was probably in the 42nd minute on a rip from Carlos Peña.
Cruz Azul looked comfortable early in the second half, but Leon sparked themselves back to life with a couple of substitutions. Eisner Loboa and Elias Hernandez replaced Peña and Cardenas between the 69th and 71st minutes, and the fresh legs seemed to work wonders for Leon. From then until the end of the match, they were the better side and were unlucky not to score.
The visitors had a couple of very scary moments, but managed to dodge bullets on both occasions. Julio Dominguez cleared a shot off the line in the 75th minute and Corona came up big to deny a close-range shot by Boselli in the 83rd minute that looked like a certain goal.
La Maquina had a handful of decent half-chances on the counter as well, though they couldn't make anything of them. Ultimately, they won't be too bothered and should be pleased to head home with both an away goal and a draw.
Leon: Yarbrough, Ibarra, Marquez, Magallon, Ed. Hernandez (Navarro 83'), Cardenas (El. Hernandez 69'), Vazquez, Peña (Loboa 71'), Montes, Boselli, Arizaka
Goals: Cardenas (21')
Cruz Azul: Corona, Pinto, Dominguez, Perea, Chavez, Castro, Torrado, Rojas (Flores 83'), Formica (Gimenez 69'), Fabian, Pavone (Valdez 90')
Goals: Pavone (4')