With New England and Chivas USA drawing, Pachuca the defending Superliga Champions need only a draw to advance to the knock out stages of the competition. Standing in their way are Osvaldo Sanchez and the reigning Mexican Clausura Champions Santos Laguna who must feel hard done by some of the officiating and bad bounces of the ball they received on Wednesday night versus Chivas USA.
Santos has come out with an attacking intent but without any sort of shape and with some terrible spacing. In addition a lack of ideas in the final third has me thinking Pachuca may not even have to work to get the point they need to advance. This script plays out for the first twenty five minutes of the half but then Christian Benitez, the goat against Chivas USA scores and all of a sudden Pachuca is holding on for dear life.
Fernando Arce has taken over this match and his skill is leading Santos forward while Pachuca minus Christian Gimenez is continuing to fight. This last portion of the match has been arguably as good as any action in the Superliga especially given what is at stake, the two sides involved and the impeccable quality of the pitch. Pachuca actually creates some chances and gets the draw needed to advance. As always Pachuca knows what it must do to stay alive in these competitions and advance to face the Houston Dynamo in the semifinal of a major competition for the third time in the last two years.
Pachuca doesn’t waste anytime pushing forward and getting the vital first goal thanks to Damian Alvarez. As the half wears on the experienced Pachuca midfield who has together won so many matches of this importance asserts their influence on the match. Santos goes forward often but seems open to counter attacking. Bruno Marioni in particular is getting a number of chances. Towards the end of the half Santos does well to get set piece opportunities and comes oh so close to an equalizer a few times but still no breakthrough.