CIUDAD DE PANAMÁ | Wednesday, September 28, 2016.- Clinching a place in the Quarter Final of the CONCACAF Champions League will have to wait for Tigres, since the team’s under-par performance led them to a 1-0 loss in Panama against Plaza Amador, forcing them to win their ticket at home.
Despite the defeat, Tigres is still in first place of Group G with 6 points, two more than the Costa Rican side Herediano, who will be visiting the Universitario Stadium on October 18 to compete for qualification. A draw would be sufficient for the San Nicolás de los Garza team to advance.
Ricardo Ferretti decided on a slightly different lineup from the one used in the last Champions League match, to include Hugo Ayala in the center, Alberto Acosta on the left, Julián Quiñones as a right winger and Andy Delort as a center forward.
Tigres’ formation was practically four forwards and two central midfielders, showing that they had come to the Maracaná in Panamá with the goal of taking home three points, although there was some doubt that the players on the field would be able to quickly overcome the fact that they aren’t used to playing together.
Tigres were in control of the match, owning the ball from the start, trying to organize attacks along the flanks, using Damián Álvarez and Julián Quiñones in a breakaway position, and generating several opportunities.
However, the felines faced a solid defense in the Panamanian team since Plaza Amador was defending their goal with up to ten men. Even though ‘Tuca’ Ferretti’s players created havoc along the flanks, the forwards were unable to reach their destination, always coming up short.
The Panamanians tended to lose the ball quickly, but a single opportunity was all they needed to score the only goal of the first half, with a lost ball outside the box after being cleared by José Rivas, and then Barsallo made the connection to send it into the back of the net.
The Colombian Julián Quiñones had the clearest opportunity for the felines at 42’, sending a lob over the goalkeeper but the ball smashed into the post, with the rebound for ‘Queso’ Fernández who was unable to send it into the net. This marked the end of the first half.
The second half kicked off with the same players and the same formation as in the first half, with Tigres endeavoring to circulate the ball from one side to the other and the opponent parking the bus in their territory, blocking all the felines’ attempts.
Ferretti’s first substitution came at minute 53, with Luis Quiñones replacing the Paraguayan Fernando Fernández, in an attempt to give the side’s attack more mobility. Jonathan Espericueta substituted Alberto Acosta to gain more depth a better construction.
With Luis and ‘Espiri’, the team looked far bolder on the field. In fact, at 64’, the Colombian’s mid-range shot was deflected by the Panamanian goalie for a corner. Jonathan tried yet again at 79’ with a free kick that forced the netkeeper Hughes to save the ball for a second time.
Despite these efforts, the felines were unable to score. Their lack of precision in the top third of the pitch took its toll, leaving them with a loss in Central America.
Tigres now just needs a draw in their last group match to advance to the CONCACAF Quarter Finals.
1-0 (37’) Ricauter Barsallo took the ball from outside Tigres’ penalty area, sending the ball flying past Enrique Palos, who had no chance to stop it.
Tigres: Enrique Palos; Luis Rodríguez, Hugo Ayala, José Rivas and Alberto Acosta (Jonathan Espericueta 59’); Manuel Viniegra, Israel Jiménez, Julián Quiñones (Luis Silva 74’) and Damián Álvarez; Fernando Fernández (Luis Quiñones 53’) and Andy Delort
Plaza Amador: Eric Hughes; Algish Dixon, Luis Mendoza, Humberto Gómez and Sergio Ortega; Frank Piedrahita, José Murillo (Luis Fraiz 58’) and Luis Jaramillo (Alexander González 56’); Delano Welch (Humberto Ward 70’), Ricauter Barsallo and Marlon Ávila
Referee: Walter López (Guatemala)
Tigres: Manuel Viniegra (25’)
Plaza Amador: Humberto Gómez (78’)