Mexico City: America have overcome the so-called “curse of the superleaders” to go through to the Mexican Apertura championship semi-finals where they will meet Toluca.
Both America and Toluca, who drew 1-1 at home to Chiapas on Sunday for a 2-2 aggregate result, qualified for the last four thanks to their final positions in the championship’s 17-match league phase after their quarter-final ties ended level.
Toluca were fourth and Chiapas fifth while America, who beat Mexico City rivals UNAM Pumas 1-0 at the Azteca on Saturday for a 1-1 aggregate score, finished top. Pumas, who won the first leg 1-0 at home in midweek, were eighth.
Rarely have the team winning the league phase gone on the lift the title and finishing in top spot has come to be branded the “curse of the superleaders” but America coach Antonio Mohamed brushed it aside.
“Today we saw the reality of the superleaders... The tie could have gone either way. Being leaders helped because we drew on aggregate,” Mohamed said.
“We’re not going on holiday, nor am I leaving as everyone said, I’m in the job for another week,” he told reporters after rumours he would be sacked in case of a defeat.
Argentine central defender Paolo Goltz headed the decisive goal 15 minutes from time to maintain compatriot Mohamed’s hopes of a second Mexican league title after his success in charge of Tijuana in the 2012 Apertura.
UANL Tigres also went through on Saturday thanks to their second-place finish in the league standings after a 1-1 draw at home to Pachuca gave them a 2-2 aggregate result.
Tigres will meet the winners of the tie between Atlas and Monterrey. Atlas, 1-0 up from the first leg away, were at home in Sunday’s second leg in Guadalajara City (0001 GMT).