Atlas beat Club Leon 3-2 in tonight’s Liga MX game in Guadalajara, heaping further pressure on Leon boss Juan Pizzi and moving the hosts a step closer to the post-season playoffs.
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Leon went into the game in 17th place, a terrible slide for the side that just 12 months ago were back-to-back Mexican champions. Atlas, meanwhile, knew a win was vital to keep their playoff aspirations on track.
Atlas made two changes from the side that won 1-0 away at Puebla in Week 14, bringing in Eduardo Castillo for Carlos Arreola and Daniel Alvarez for Christian Suarez. Leon also made a pair of changes from their 1-1 draw with Toluca last time out, replacing Miguel Sabah with Gonzalo Rios and Juan Gonzalez with Jonathan Bottinelli.
The game started in electric fashion as Jonathan Bottinelli put the visitors a goal up inside five minutes, heading home a corner with a bullet-like finish that left Atlas ‘keeper Federico Vilar with no chance.
Their lead didn’t last very long, however. After 15 minutes Atlas were level, as Luis Caballero capitalised on some sloppy defending to slot the ball under the onrushing William Yarborough.
The goals didn’t let up there. Just six minutes later Leon had restored their lead with the best goal of the game. Atlas failed to clear their lines, and the ball dropped kindly to Fernando Navarro who lashed home a sweet shot from almost 25 yards out.
After the blistering start the game entered a slight lull. Suarez and Ramirez went close for the hosts, while Pena fired wide for Leon when it was easier to score – but the first half ended 2-1.
The drama resumed in the second half. Walter Kannemann picked up two yellow cards in a minute and was sent off in the 65th minute. The latter of the two cards resulted in a penalty which gave Gonzalo Rios the chance to put Leon 3-1 ahead, but he fired wide of the post.
Ten minutes later Atlas were level thanks to their own penalty. Juan Rodriguez made no mistake from 12 yards, and it set up a thrilling finale.
With five minutes to go Bottinelli was sent off for Leon for a second yellow – the first coming on the earlier penalty.
Just when it looked like the game was heading for a draw Atlas struck to take all three points. A defensive lapse gave them a four on one situation, and Perez swept the ball into an empty net.
The result leaves Atlas in fourth place with 25 points – one of four teams ties on 25 at the top of the table. They are four points clear on ninth-placed Santos Laguna. Leon stay 17th.
Next up for the hosts is a Week 16 trip to Tijuana and then a final home game against Club America. Leon go to Puebla next week before concluding the season at home to Tijuana.