The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
Pachuca downs Pumas to join Santos Laguna, Toluca and Leon in Mexican semifinals
MEXICO CITY - Ecuador midfielder Enner Valencia scored a hat trick as Pachuca downed Pumas 4-2 on Sunday to advance to the semifinals in Mexico's first division Clausura playoffs.
Pachuca won the quarterfinals series 5-3 on aggregate and will next face Santos Laguna. Toluca plays Leon in the other semifinal.
Santos defeated America 3-1 on Saturday to advance on away goals after a 6-6 aggregate draw, while Leon drew 2-2 with Cruz Azul. Toluca defeated Tijuana 3-1 on Sunday, following a 0-0 draw in the first leg.
Valencia turned sharply past a defender and placed a left foot shot into the corner of the net for his first goal in the 12th minute and Efrain Velarde equalized four minutes later with a strike from 25 yards (meters).
Valencia tapped in for his second in the 25th, with Jose Carlos Van Rankin pulling Pumas back level in the 33rd.
Valencia's third goal came from a direct free-kick that he curled inside the post from outside the penalty area and Hugo Rodriguez extended the lead with a header in the 55th.
Santos Laguna's Ribair Rodriguez and Andres Renteria scored in its win, after Carlos Valenzuela of America conceded an own goal.
Leon came from two goals behind in a match affected by heavy rain in Mexico City, with Mauro Boselli scoring from close range in the 40th and Luis Montes levelling in the 59th with a solo effort. Argentines Mariano Pavone and Mauro Formica scored early for Cruz Azul.
Miguel Ponce and Edgar Benitez netted one goal each in the last 30 minutes to hand Toluca victory. Antonio Rios had given Toluca the lead in the 32nd, before Dario Benedetto equalized for Tijuana in the 49th.
The first legs of the semifinals are scheduled to be played on Wednesday and Thursday, with the return legs on Saturday and Sunday.
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