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 Thursday, September 26, 2002 02:23 EST

Morelia edges Cruz Azul 1-0

[Associated Press]

LOS ANGELES -- Jose Antonio Noriega scored in the final minute to give Morelia a 1-0 victory over Cruz Azul in the first game of a Copa Libertadores playoff doubleheader Wednesday. All teams are from Mexico.

Noriega scored in the 90th minute with a feed from Alex Fernandes. Noriega's rising 7-yard shot ricocheted off the right hand of goalkeeper Oscar Perez and inside the left post.

Perez played every minute for Mexico during the 2002 World Cup.

Morelia goalkeeper Sergio Cisneros made one save for the shutout.

In the second match at the Los Angeles Coliseum, Sergio Ponce and Hector Jimenez scored to give Toluca a 2-0 victory over Pachuca.

Ponce scored in the 28th minute on a free kick from inches outside the 18-yard penalty area. Jimenez struck a 15-yard shot off the right hand of onrushing Pachuca goalkeeper Jorge Rodriguez in the 53rd minute.

Pachuca played an all-reserve squad because of a scheduling conflict with a Mexican league game.

Despite the loss, Cruz Azul advances with UNAM Pumas of Mexico City to a four-team playoff beginning Oct. 2 with Toluca and Pachuca.

Cruz Azul, UNAM Pumas and Morelia finished in a three-way tie in their group, but Cruz Azul and Pumas advance on goal differential.

The four-team playoff will determine the two Mexican entries for the Copa Libertadores, South America's most prestigious club tournament.

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