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Toluca coach Nacho Ambríz: We’re still alive in the tie

A “nightmare first half” for Toluca saw Pachuca take control of the 2022 Apertura final before Sunday’s return leg

Roddy Cons
A “nightmare first half” for Toluca saw Pachuca take control of the 2022 Apertura final before Sunday’s return leg
Alex CruzEFE

Toluca have the mountain of all mountains to climb if they are to have any chance of winning a first title since the 2010 Apertura tournament. Two goals down inside 15 minutes at home to Pachuca, four behind at half-time. For some, the final was over almost before it had even began. Not, however, for Diablos Rojos boss Nacho Ambríz, who saw enough in his team’s second-half showing to suggest the return leg at Estadio Hidalgo will not simply be a formality.

Toluca: poor defending and missed chances put Pachuca in control of the 2022 Apertura final

It was one of those nights for Ambriz’s men, who were on the receiving end of a clinical performance by their opponents, while slack marking at set plays and disastrous defending for Pachuca’s third goal did nothing to help their cause. The Red Devils arguably created – and missed – two of the clearest chances of the game, one in either half and, to top it all off, missed a penalty in injury time. Had those gone in, as they should’ve done, the final scoreline would have looked rather different.

In his post-match press conference, Ambríz pinpointed the difference between the teams on the night and insisted the roles could be reversed come Sunday:

“We had a nightmare first half, we made lots of mistakes. And in terms of efficiency in the final third, then there’s no comparison. We didn’t take the chances we created in the second half and they won convincingly. Internally, we’re hurting a lot but there are still two 45-minute halves to play. We’ve got nothing to lose and a lot to gain. I’ve already heard people saying that it’s over, that’s fine, they’ll see a different side of us on Sunday.

Toluca “are still in with a chance” against Pachuca

Former Mexico international Ambríz was desperately disappointed that his players were unable to repay the backing of the fans but offered them hope that the team would make it up to them in the return leg:

“Of course, it’s a huge blow, especially at home in front of our fans. We’re really down just now, it’s not normal to be 4-0 down at half-time, it’s never happened to me before. But we’re still alive in the tie. People can laugh at me if they want, but I trust this team. We’ll lick our wounds, the players told me in the dressing room that we’re still in with a chance.”

“I have nothing but praise for the fans. In the crucial moments of the match, we could’ve scored once or twice and I feel really sad that we couldn’t have made more of a game of it, especially with a full stadium and total backing of the fans. That frustrates me, that I didn’t get it right. We need to play the perfect match on Sunday.”

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