MÉXICO, December 22.- Tigres will be reaching for the fifth star in their history in front of their incomparable fans after coming out of the Azteca Stadium alive with a 1-1 draw against América in the first leg of the 2016 Summer Tournament (Apertura) final.
A Final played with intelligence and, to a certain extent, taking risks is how our Tigres started out. They yielded the ball on purpose and at times allowed the opponent to take the initiative and gain space.
Nevertheless, América wasn’t taking any risks either or pressing forward, thus allowing Ricardo Ferretti’s to control the build-up, though not always the overlap runs.
América were in possession in the first half, but Tigres controlled the pace of the match, breaking away cautiously, but confidently, so much so that in the very first minute André-Pierre Gignac entered the zone, though was disarmed by the defense with a corner.
América, true to their style in the Azteca, sought to take control of the ball and advance rapidly, but at the three-quarter line of the pitch they were obstructed and forced to reorganize.
However, at 3’, William Da Silva managed to take a shot that Nahuel cleared with both hands, sending the ball far away from his net. Tigres began to position themselves better in the safety zone to break away with long-range passes.
América progressed on the basis of one-on-one plays, such as Michael Arroyo’s powerful shot on the left, which was cleared by Nahuel. However, in the very next play, the referee, Paul Delgadillo, awarded a penalty kick for a foul by Jesús Dueñas on Oribe.
At minute 28, Oribe Peralta took his place on the penalty spot, while Nahuel said something to him, making the América player send his shot to the crossbar, obliterating the home team’s goal opportunity.
Águilas didn’t drop their guard, pressing forward against Tigres who were falling back, as though just waiting for the right moment to attack.
At the 40-minute mark, Arroyo, who usually ups his game against Tigres, tried to put Nahuel to the test, but Patón cleared the ball with a two-handed punch, sending the threat far away.
Just when it seemed that the first half would end in a scoreless draw, Gignac took advantage of a mistake by the defense, breaking away and shaking off two men to get into the box and nutmeg Moisés Muñoz, who had moved off his line, giving Tigres a 1-0 lead that quietened the Azteca.
América started the second half replacing Guerrero with Álvarez, a reserve player, perhaps seeking greater ball possession, while Ricardo Ferretti, Tigres’ manager, sent the same eleven on.
At 48’, Alex Ibarra attempted a cross that put Nahuel’s goal in danger, and, at 52’, Lucas Zelarayan’s endeavor went over the net. Tigres and América began to play one on one.
Tuca decided to take off Zelarayan, who wasn’t having a good night, and send Iván Estrada on, placing him on the right flank and moving Dueñas up as a second shield together with Guido Pizarro.
The game began to lack opportunities, becoming more tactical in the midfield and with a spate of clashes in the safety zone.
Bruno Valdez received a corner kick at the far post sending the ball into the net to equalize at 68’. This was the 1-1 the local side had been seeking at all costs.
Tigres had to manage without an injured Gignac at minute 75, and replaced him with his fellow Frenchman, Andy Delort, refreshing the forward area to hang on to the draw until the final whistle.
América knew they had to make the most of this moment, when Tigres was disconcerted from receiving a goal and then losing their top scorer to an injury, relentlessly attacking Nahuel’s goal.
In stoppage time, Tuca replaced Sosa with a José Rivas, to assure the 1-1 tie until the end of the match.
The final score has left everything up in the air, so the 2016 Apertura champion will be defined in the second leg at our stadium and in front of our incomparable supporters.
AMÉRICA: Móises Muñoz; Paolo Goltz, Pablo Aguilar, José Guerrero (Edson Álvarez 46’), Bruno Valdez, William Da Silva, Rubens Sambueza, Michael Arroyo (Carlos Quintero 73’), Miguel Samudio, Alex Ibarra, Oribe Peralta.
TIGRES: Nahuel Guzmán; Jorge Torres Nilo, Juninho, Hugo Ayala, Jesús Dueñas, Guido Pizarro, Lucas Zelarayan (Iván Estrada 65’), Javier Aquino, Jürgen Damm, Ismael Sosa (José Rivas 91’) and André-Pierre Gignac (Andy Delort 75’).
0-1 (44’) André-Pierre Gignac took advantage of a mistake by the defense, shook off two men and scored as Muñoz stepped off his line.
1-1 (68’) Bruno Valdez received a ball on the far post and sent it into the back of the net.
AMÉRICA: José Guerrero (11’), Rubens Sambueza (38’) and Oribe Peralta (83’)
TIGRES: Hugo Ayala (8’) and Iván Estrada (82’).
REFEREE: Paul Delgadillo Haro