Leon’s hopes of a second consecutive championship remain on track after a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Toluca in the semifinal first leg. The game saw Luis Montes score the important goal and Talavera fail to complete the full ninety minutes.
Leon made one change to the side which drew 2-2 with Cruz Azul as Eisner Loboa replaced Matías Britos - enabling Leon to put an extra body in midfield. Tolcua were unchanged from their victory over Tijuana.
The 1-0 scoreline doesn't do justice to the open and free flowing game. Both sides could have easily scored more if it wasn't for an excellent performance from the goalkeepers.
Both sides started the game confidently, with both Talavera and Yarbrough having to be alert to a number of crosses in the opening exchanges.
Leon crafted a wonderful opening after 16 minutes when Boselli was played in by Montes, but Talavera make a great save. Replays showed Boselli’s powerful shot hit him in the face, and the goalkeeper stayed down for several minutes receiving treatment.
Leon grabbed the initiative just after the twenty minute mark thanks to Luis Montes. His bullet header marked his second goal of the Liguilla and will be a timely reminder to Miguel Herrera of his all-round talents.
Toluca’s evening went from back to worse when Talavera couldn’t shake off his earlier injury and had to be replaced shortly after conceding. Cesar Lozano took his place to make just third appearance of the season.
Leon continued to apply pressure but couldn’t add a second before half-time. Montes twice went close to adding to his tally for the evening, but replacement keeper Lozano was relishing his opportunity and made some fine saves.
Pena’s normally excellent final product continues to desert him, a problem typified when he blazed a good chance over the bar just after halftime. Following that miss Toluca moved onto the front-foot and tried to force an equaliser, but Leon slowly reasserted their dominance.
Marquez and Raul Nava both had long range efforts turned onto the woodwork, but neither side could find the back of the net. Despite more than twenty five shots between the two teams the score stayed 1-0.
Leon will be delighted with the victory. Having not conceded an away goal they know they have given themselves a fantastic platform for the second leg on Sunday. Toluca had the regular season’s best defence and can also still be confident of staging a turnaround in front of their own fans.
Man of the Match
Luis Montes - Leon
Montes was once again the driving force behind Leon’s excellent midfield performance, offering an all-action display that was capped with a fine goal.
Fool of the Match
Alfredo Talavera - Toluca
Talavera had a forgettable evening, conceding a goal and picking up an injury. He will be especially disappointed given Herrera’s World Cup squad announcement is less than twenty four hours away.