GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Atlas was forced to settle for a 1-1 draw when it surrendered a late goal against Pachuca in its final game of Mexican soccer’s Apertura season, leaving its playoff hopes on hold heading into Saturday’s action.
Atlas’s Jose Madueña opened the scoring late in the first half of Friday night’s match at Jalisco Stadium in Guadalajara when he headed home a perfect pass from fellow defender and former FC Barcelona player Rafael Marquez.
The home side then dominated the action in the second half and created – but failed to convert – three clear opportunities to make the score 2-0.
Atlas’s defense, however, fell apart in the waning moments of the match.
In the 90th minute, Colombian defender Jaine Barreiro nearly scored an own goal; on the ensuing corner kick, net minder Miguel Fraga batted the ball away instead of corralling it and thus enabled Pachuca to set up a game-tying play finished off by Uruguayan defender Robert Herrera.
With the draw, Atlas missed out on a chance to move up to third place in the league standings and book its spot in the eight-team playoffs.
Currently in seventh place with 25 points, its fate now depends on the result of two games Saturday pitting Cruz Azul against Veracruz and Necaxa against Morelia.
Necaxa is in eighth place with 24 points but could move up to as high as third with a win over its fourth-placed opponent, while Cruz Azul is currently in ninth but could climb into the top four with a victory over lowly Veracruz.
Atlas can still make the playoffs with a Necaxa loss or a Cruz Azul defeat or draw.
Pachuca, meanwhile, is in 12th place and has been eliminated from playoff contention.