A bad night for goalkeepers leaves Cruz Azul on the verge of its sixth final in four years and keeps Guadalajara alive after first legs in the Mexican Primera Division's spring Clausura semifinals.
Cruz Azul, seeking its first Mexican title since 1997 and only its second since 1980, dominated Morelia, 2-0, Thursday night as Argentines Christian Gimenez and Emanuel Villa, La Maquina Celeste's top attackers, scored first-half goals.
Guadalajara rallied for a 1-1 draw with visiting Pumas UNAM as Omar Arellano netted an 89th-minute equalizer.
Sunday's second legs will determine next week's finalists.
Club Tijuana and Irapuato drew, 1-1, in the first leg of the second-tier Liga de Ascenso's final.
Guadalajara, which must head to Mexico City for the second leg, was behind on Efrain Velarde's header six minutes into the second half, but Arellano's 30-yard drive bounced past Pumas goalkeeper Alejandro Palacios and into the net.
“Of course, the draw doesn’t say much for us, but we can come through the second leg if we can show enough personality and desire,” Arellano told reporters after the game. “It was a very hard-fought match.”
Gimenez gave Cruz Azul a 27th-minute lead with a free kick that Morelia goalkeeper Federico Vilar fumbled into his net. Villa scored from Gimenez's feed just before halftime.
Cruz Azul lost in three Primera Division finals in the past six seasons and failed to get out of the quarterfinals after posting the best regular-season record last fall. The Cementeros also lost in the 2009 and 2010 CONCACAF Champions League finals, both times to Mexican rivals.
LIGA DE ASCENSO: An early goal, the crossbar and a penalty kick that wasn't awarded has Irapuato on the verge of forcing third and fourth games against Club Tijuana.
Luis Valdes scored in the seventh minute for La Trinca, which claimed a 1-1 draw in Wednesday's first leg of the Liga's Clausura final at Estadio Caliente a few miles south of the border.
Alejandro Molina evened things for Tijuana, which must win Saturday's second leg to add the Clausura title to the Apertura crown it won last fall. A draw would favor Irapuato, as the higher seed.
Mauro Gerk hit the crossbar for Tijuana, and a handball in the Irapuato box by La Trinca's Juan Carlos Arellano wasn't called.
Irapuato, led by Cuauhtemoc Blanco, hopes to force a second home-and-home series with the Xolos next week, with the winner gaining promotion to the Premier Division. Tijuana will be promoted with a victory Saturday.
ETC.: Jaguares rallied for a 1-1 draw with visiting Paraguayan club Cerro Porteño in a quarterfinal first leg in the Copa Libertadores. Antonio Pedroza's last-minute goal pulled the Chiapas-based side even; the second leg is next week in Asuncion. … Toluca fired head coach Sergio Lugo. … Sacramento-born Miguel Angel Ponce went the distance for Guadalajara. San Diego's Joe Corona played the full 90 for Tijuana.
SEMIFINALS, FIRST LEG
Guadalajara 1 (O. Arellano 89), Pumas UNAM 1 (E. Velarde 51)
Cruz Azul 2 (C. Gimenez 27, E. Villa 45), Morelia 0
SEMIFINALS, SECOND LEG
Guadalajara at Pumas UNAM, 10 a.m.
Cruz Azul at Morelia, 6 p.m.
LIGA DE ASCENSO
FINAL, FIRST LEG
Club Tijuana 1 (A. Molina 60), Irapuato 1 (L. Valdes 7)
FINAL, SECOND LEG
Club Tijuana at Irapuato, 6 p.m.
QUARTERFINALS, FIRST LEG
Jaguares (Mexico) 1 (A. Pedroza 90), Cerro Porteño (Paraguay) 1 (Fabbro 90)
QUARTERFINALS, SECOND LEG
Thursday, May 19
Jaguares (Mexico) at Cerro Porteño (Paraguay), 6:30 p.m.
All times Pacific