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Liga MX

Liga MX playoffs: How does the away goals rule work in case of a tie?

Each stage of the post season has a specific regulation on how games should be decided in the case of a tie.

Ulises NaranjoMEXSPORT

It’s fair to say that the current structure of the Mexican league is not without its detractors. At present the season is played in two mini-seasons (Apertura and Clausura) with no relegation currently in place and 12 of the 18 teams advancing to the postseason stage. Many feel that too many teams are rewarded for mediocre campaigns with others claiming that having so many teams involved maintains excitement and tension down to the wire.

With this being Liga MX, each stage of the postseason too has its idiosyncrasies. Do away goals count double? Is there extra time? How do teams progress in tied games?

Repechaje (wild-card round)

Teams finishing in fifth place through to twelfth place are involved in a play-in or wild card (repechaje) before the quarter final stage. The ties see 5th playing 12th, 6th facing 11th, 7th v 10th and 8th staging 9th with the home team those in 5th-8th place.

These are single round games with the winner advancing to the quarter final stage. Should a ‘repechaje’ tie end in a draw, then the game goes straight to penalties as we saw recently when Puebla and Chivas drew 1-1 after 90 minutes with ‘La Franja’ advancing after a shoot-out.

Players of Puebla celebrate after winning in the penalty shoot out the playoff match between Puebla and Chivas
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Players of Puebla celebrate after winning in the penalty shoot out the playoff match between Puebla and ChivasAgustin CuevasGetty

Quarter and semi-final games

The four sides that progress from the wild-card round then face the top four sides from the regular season in home and away games. The side that finishes higher in the regular season faces the lowest ranked side from the regular phase (America played Puebla, with ‘La Franja’ finishing eighth in the regular season but he highest ranked side from the wild-card round.) The higher ranked side also plays he second leg at home.

Should games at the quarter and semi-final stages be tied on aggregate, then the higher placed side in the regular season progresses as we say over the weekend when Pachuca and Tigres drew 2-2 after both games. ‘Los Tuzos’ advanced by virtue of finishing fourth in the regular season with Tigres in fifth place.

Deciding the final

Things change slightly when we get to the final stage as league position only determines which team plays at home in the second leg. Should the aggregate score at the end of the second leg see both finalists tied, then extra time is played with two halves of 15 minutes. Should the scoreline still be drawn, then penalty kicks are used to determine the winner.

A case in point was the historic Atlas FC Apertura 2021 when the Guadalajara side won the title for the first time in 70 years. Their first leg away to Club Leon ended in a 3-2 loss for Atlas but a 1-0 second leg home win forced the tie to extra time. With no resolution after a further half an hour of action, the Foxes ultimately ran out winners with a 4-3 win on penalty kicks to the delight of the fans at the Estadio Jalisco.