SAN NICOLÁS DE LOS GARZA, January 7.- The UANL Tigres began the defense of their title undefeated, despite the absence of nine starters, with a goalless draw against Santos Laguna.
The coaching staff led by Ricardo Ferretti decided to let the majority of the starters rest, valiantly and resolutely facing a team whose batteries were fully recharged.
The performance of Lucas Zelarayán as the striker and Luis Rodríguez in the defensive zone on Tigres’ pitch was impeccable, in front of a crowd of 41 thousand Incomparable Ones, despite the cold.
Although Santos’s plan was not to take control of the match, they had the first opportunity at minute 8, when Jorge Tavares’ header at the near post was saved by Enrique Palos, conceding a corner.
The hosts responded rapidly, since at 14’, Alberto Acosta attempted a shot that wasn’t much of a problem for the goalie Orozco, who was booed every time he touched the ball.
Santos came close once more at 29’, when Julio Furch’s managed a shot near the right post, but missed the goal by far.
However, Tigres began to look as though they could pose a threat at any moment, especially when Lucas Zelarayán had the ball and led our team up front.
Tavares, at minute 30, tried to give Palos a hard time with a low, but powerful, shot toward the bottom corner of Tigres goal.
At 41’, Andy Delort’s individual play made the fans leap out of their seats after he feinted and entered the zone with the ball straight in front of him, but his shot went over the goal.
For the second half, Tuca made his first substitution, taking Gutty Estrada off to give an opportunity to Julián Quiñones, who had come back from the U-20 National Team to participate in this match.
The maneuvering began to give the impression that Tigres was recovering their attacking strength, particularly with an attempt at minute 49, though Luis Rodríguez was caught offside.
Santos tried to improve their teamwork, at least in ball possession, against a Tigres that was trying to stay true to its style, though having difficulties in making its way to the goal.
Bad luck loomed over our side at minute 77, when Luis Martínez, a reserve, had to leave the field with a knee injury, giving up his spot to Luis Quiñones.
As a result, Pizarro moved down to the center next to Juninho, practically leaving the team without the protection of the defensive midfielders, whose role was taken on by the defenders in the last minutes of the match.
Nevertheless, at minute 79, Luis Quiñones had a shot at goal, but his finish was checked by the attentive netkeeper.
A minute later, Santos had a clear goal opportunity through Furch, but Luis “Chaka” Rodríguez came to the rescue at the very last moment. Then, at 85’, Osvaldo Martínez came face-to face with Palos, though his shot went wide of the left post.
And it was again Chaka who made Orozco’s goal tremble, when, at the 87-minute mark, he controlled a ball on the outskirts of the box, but hit the left post, leaving the opponent to sigh with relief.
Just after 90’, in a play that looked offside, the Uruguayan, Jonathan Rodríguez, broke through to face Palos, though his shot found the left post, keeping Palos’ goal safe.
TIGRES: Enrique Palos; Alberto Acosta, Juninho, Luis Martínez (Luis Quiñones 77’), Iván Estrada (Julián Quiñones 46’), José Francisco Torres (Jorge Espericueta 62’), Guido Pizarro, Luis Rodríguez, Lucas Zelarayan, Damián Álvarez and Andy Delort.
SANTOS: Jonathan Orozco; Diego de Buen, Walter Sandoval, Julio Furch, Jonathan Rodríguez (Mauricio Cuero 92’), Néstor Araujo, Ulises Rivas, Jorge Tavares (Osvaldo Martínez 70’), Carlos Izquierdoz, Jorge Sánchez and Gerardo Arteaga.
SANTOS: Julio Furch (27’) and Jorge Sánchez (45’)
REFEREE: Oscar Mejía García