[INTERLIGA]A pair of 1-0 InterLiga Monday matches propelled Pachuca into the finals with one Group A game left to play and left Morelia, which lost to UAG ("Tecos"), seething at a goal scored with one of its players laying on the ground, apparently injured.
Second-half Pachuca substitutes Christian Gimenez and Edgar Benitez joined forces to down Toluca in a matchup of the defending Concacaf Cup champion and 2008 Apertura winner. Benitez nodded home a header from a deep Giminez cross to separate two teams that showed some preseason rust yet produced more than a few dazzling sequences.
The win gives Pachuca its second win in as many Interliga games and guarantees it a spot in the Jan. 11 finals at Home Depot Center. It concludes group play Thursday at HDC against Morelia (0-1-1), which after losing to UAG (1-1-0) must beat Toluca (0-1-1) in its final group game and get some help from Pachuca to advance.
A seesaw match produced chances and spectacular saves at both ends before and after UAG got its goal in the 71st minute. Tecos defender Adrian Cortes chose not to put the ball out of play with opponent Marvin Cabrera on the ground. Instead, Cortes swerved a cross to the far post that Diego Jimenez headed downward; it struck him on the bounce and ricocheted into the net for a strange yet quite legal goal tainted somewhat by the circumstances.
Morelia's protests that Cabrera was injured gained credence when he was substituted shortly after the goal, but Tecos coach Miguel Herrera wasn't buying.
"It was a ball where Cabrera faked an injury that didn't exist," said Herrera. "The 'rules' of the game call for the team to play the ball out of bounds when there is an injury.
"However, when the ball is in play, you have to know where the ball is on the field. The referee judged the play well; it is just a through ball like any other."
UAG keeper Jose de Jesus Corona, who had rescued his team on numerous occasions during the match, closed out the victory with two more saves to earn the edge over Morelia counterpart Moises Munoz.
Group B resumes Tuesday with the second round of games at Pizza Hut Park. All four teams have a point apiece following a pair of ties in the group openers last weekend.
UNL plays Club America (8 p.m. ET) in the opener and city rivals Guadalajara and Atlas meet in the second match (10:30 p.m.) All Interliga games are televised live on Fox Sports en Espanol.