A HOME COMEBACK NEEDED
SAN JOSÉ, Costa Rica, February 19th.- The UANL Tigres came close to scoring over and over again, but were unable to find the defining shot, resulting in a 1-0 loss against the Costa Rican side Saprissa, in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League Round of Sixteen.
Enner Valencia, Eduardo Vargas, Javier Aquino, Julián Quiñones and even Israel Jiménez generated six clear opportunities, but they had left their decisiveness behind in Mexico, while the opponent capitalized on one of their very few chances to score.
The game got off to a slow start, with our side taking a while to settle in, but once they found their pace, they began to generate opportunities against a somewhat hesitant Saprissa.
At minute nine, Eduardo Vargas’ mid-distance shot was blocked by goalkeeper Aarón Cruz, in the start of a lucky, well-placed evening for him.
Then, at 13’, it was Aquino’s turn when he broke away from two opponents, but the Costa Rican keeper intercepted the shot again.
Saprissa reacted at 18’, when Manuel Torres’ right-footed shot was saved by Nahuel Guzmán, conceding a corner. Later on, Torres had another chance, but his attempt went wide to the left.
Johan Venegas headed the ball at 30’ into Nahuel’s hands, in another attempt by the hosts. And, at 33’, Julián Quiñones’ header in front of the net missed to the left.
Vargas tried again at 37’, but his shot went over the crossbar; Julián had another chance at 40’, but his shot from inside the box went into the goalkeeper’s hands.
Nevertheless, near the end of the first half, it was Tigres who was saved when Rubilio Castillo missed a shot right in front of the net.
The match continued along the same lines in the second half, with Tigres attacking and missing, against an opponent who sought to counterattack and found their best chances in set pieces.
At minute 51, Aquino masterfully stole the ball inside the box, advanced on the net, but his shot was blocked and deflected by keeper Cruz.
Afterwards, at 56’, Enner Valencia took advantage when a defender slipped, breaking away unmarked towards the goal, but his shot was intercepted yet again by goalkeeper Saprissa.
Just a minute went by when Vargas had another opportunity, with a mid-range shot that missed to the left. At 60’, Aquino forced the goalkeeper to dive low to make the save and, at 65’, Valencia broke away again, looked for Vargas, but the defense intervened first.
At minute 73, in a corner kick, the opponent scored a goal, with a header by Johan Venegas. The 1-0 felt like a bucket of cold water.
There seemed to be sufficient time to fight back, but a header by Luis Quiñones missed to the right, then Valencia put the ball in the keeper’s hands and finally, at 90’, Vargas’ attempt was saved by goalkeeper Cruz.
SAPRISSA: 13 Aarón Cruz; 2 Christian Bolaños, 7 Johan Venegas, 9 Rubilio Castillo (8 Randall Leal 66’), 10 Marvin Angulo (5 Alejandro Cabral 85’), 11 Michael Barrantes, 12 Ricardo Blanco, 20 Mariano Torres, 21 Juan Bustos, 29 Luis Hernández and 52 Aubrey David
MGR.: WALTER CENTENO
TIGRES: 1 Nahuel Guzmán; 2 Israel Jiménez, 4 Hugo Ayala, 5 Rafael de Souza, 6 Jorge Torres Nilo, 9 Eduardo Vargas, 13 Enner Valencia, 20 Javier Aquino, 21 Francisco Meza, 29 Jesús Dueñas and 33 Julián Quiñones (26 Luis Quiñones 71’).
MGR.: RICARDO FERRETTI
1-0 (71’) Off a corner kick, Johan Venegas scores with a header.
SAPRISSA: Aubrey David (44’) and Mariano Torres (62’)
TIGRES: Jesús Dueñas (22’).
REFEREE: Jair Marrufo (USA)
ASSISTANT REFEREE No. 1: Frank Anderson (USA)
ASSISTANT REFEREE No. 2: Corey Rockwell (USA)
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Reon Radix (GRANADA)