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Morelia joins Pachuca in finals
by Ridge Mahoney, January 9th, 2009 8:47AM
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[INTERLIGA] Morelia cranked up its wheezing attack just in time to earn a spot in the Interliga finals by beating group winner Pachuca and getting some help from Toluca to edge through in second place. The final day of play in Group A at Home Depot Center Thursday produced a pair of attacking displays from teams desperately needing goals to advance. Morelia beat Pachuca, 3-0, and wound up in second place when Toluca knocked off UAG, 2-0, to eliminate the Tecos from advancing, which they would have done with a win.

Despite losing, Pachuca (2-1-0) won the group with six points, and Morelia (1-1-1, 4 points) nudged out Toluca (1-1-1) on goal differential, plus two to plus one. UAG (1-2-0, 3 points) finished last.

In the first game, Morelia put pressure on UAG by blasting Pachuca with goals by Hugo Droguett, Andres Mendoza and Wilson Tiago to finish group play with four points (1-1-1) and a plus-two goal differential. It had started the night in last place with just one point, having lost, 1-0, to UAG earlier in the week on a goal scored while one of its players, defender Marvin Cabrera, lay on the ground, apparently injured.

Group leader Pachuca had already clinched a spot in the finals, and Morelia turned its greater urgency into goals. Mendoza opened the scoring in the 29th minute when he slipped through the Pachuca back line to reach a ball played through by Droguett and fire it into the net.

Droguett got the second goal seven minutes into the second half by tucking away a pass from Elias Hernandez, and Wilson added the third goal in the 70th minute.

Toluca took the field needing a big victory to surpass Morelia on goal difference, and boosted its confidence by scoring only its second goal of the tournament in just the fifth minute. Raul Nava struck from close range and somewhat rattled, UAG began pressing and fouling.

Former Red Bull defender Diego Jimenez, whose goal against Morelia came with Cabrera on the ground, was one of two Tecos cautioned in the first half.

UAG, needing a win to clinch a spot in the finals, stepped up the tempo but continually ran aground against a young team, as several Toluca regulars remained in Mexico to train for the start of the regular season. Sergio Santana, who tallied against Morelia in a 1-1 tie that began group play, scored a spectacular second goal in the 84th minute by volleying a clearance into the UAG half of the field and breaking clear to drill a low shot past keeper José de Jesús Corona.

Interliga group play concludes Friday at Home Depot Center with the final set of games in Group B. Group leaders Guadalajara and Club America, tied for the group lead with four points apiece with 1-0-1 records, play UNL and Atlas, respectively. UNL and Atlas each have one point and must win to have a chance of advancing.

Atlas plays America at 9:30 p.m. (ET), with the UNL-Guadalajara match following at 12 a.m. ET. Both games will be televised live on Fox Sports en Espanol, as will the finals Sunday at 7 p.m and 9:30 p.m. The winners of the finals qualify for the 2009 Copa Libertadores.

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