One point from a goalless draw puts Tigres in the Playoff classification zone

SAN NICOLÁS DE LOS GARZA | Saturday, April 30, 2016.-  Tigres sought to achieve a victory against Veracruz on the penultimate day of the 2016 Winter Tournament (Clausura), but the team let the three points that would have put them in the Playoff classification zone slip out of their hands, although right now they are in eight place.

Continuance in the classification zone now depends on this Sunday’s match between Cruz Azul and Toluca. A draw would position both teams below Tigres, giving Ricardo Ferretti’s team control over their destiny on the last day against Cruz Azul at Estadio Azul.

Even if Cruz Azul wins, Tigres would still have a chance if they achieve a victory in Mexico City, while with a Diablos triumph, the felines would need three points and for Toluca to lose against Rayados.

The felines came out onto the pitch with the classical lineup they have used across the season, with Jürgen Damm and Javier Aquino as fullbacks-midfielders at the front, and Rafael Sobis further forward, accompanying the French player, André-Pierre Gignac.

Tigres did their best right from the kickoff, moving forwards in keeping with their style and sought opportunities in the Veracruz goal area as of minute 2, through Rafael Sobis, followed by another shot from André-Pierre Gignac who was also unable to find the opponent’s net.

The Brazilian Sobis attempted again at 9’. With a pass from Javier Aquino on the left, the South American advanced slightly to shoot with a half turn that went over Sergio ‘Matute’ García’s goal.

Rafa appeared once more, endeavoring to take advantage of a rejection by the defense in the area, but volleyed the ball over the net; at this point, there was only one team on the pitch.

After 22 minutes of play, Tigres was still practically the only team on the pitch, and up to that moment, Veracruz had enjoyed just one opportunity through Juan Albin, in a counterattack by three sharks against two felines, but he was unable to use this advantage and the ball landed in Nahuel Guzmán’s hands.

At 27’ Sobis yet again had another opportunity with a cross from Damm on the right, that landed on his chest and he lowered it but his shot missed the mark, rebounding off Gignac, and in a counter-shot the Brazilian sent the ball over the crossbar in what appeared to be the most dangerous opportunity for the UANL team.

Guido Pizarro tried his luck outside the area with a ball sent back by Aquino, and his shot was well placed, forcing ‘Matute’ to make a great save to put a stop to the goal that the fans had already begun to celebrate.

Not long after, Tigres had to make a change to the original eleven, at minute 37, when Damm was injured by the Veracruz goalkeeper and Damián Álvarez came out onto the field. This substitution led to an adjustment in the players’ positions, with Aquino moving to the right to leave the Argentine on the left.

It didn’t take Damián long to get fired up and at the 42-minute mark, he sent a long cross into the goal area where Gignac was on his own, but his header went wide, leaving the cry of goal in the throats of the supporters at the Universitario Stadium.

At 47’, Pizarro had another opportunity to score after receiving a backwards pass into the area, but his shot wasn’t even close to the Veracruz goal.

The first half ended without goals, but with the feeling of a Tigres on the attack, attempting every type of play possible, though unsuccessful in finishing in order to send the ball into the back of the net.

Ricardo Ferretti decided to make a change right from the beginning of the second half, sending Fernando Fernández onto the pitch, substituting Jesús Dueñas, who had already received a yellow card. This movement sent Sobis back as a midfielder, leaving the Paraguayan at the front together with Gignac.

Fernández had his first intervention at 47’ when he crossed the ball into the six-yard box to the French attacker, who attempted to score with a defender close by, but his header went over the Veracruz goal.

Five minutes later, a cross Aquino into the area led to a shot by Sobis, but the visiting goalie made another spectacular save to the right-hand side of his foal to stop the Brazilian’s header.

The match slowed down with Tigres trying hard but lacking depth. In fact, at 67’ Veracruz sought to take advantage of a breakaway, sending a shot that hit the base of the left post, thus failing to finish the visitors’ most dangerous play so far in the game.

After a period of playing far too long in the midfield and without any options for the felines to approach the opponent’s goal, at 85’ Aquino crossed a ball from the right that Fernández controlled with his chest and then immediately attempted to shoot, resulting in another save by the Veracruz goalkeeper, with Gignac sending the deflected ball off the pitch.

Juninho had yet another opportunity at 87’ with a fantastic ball from Aquino which left him on his own in front of the goal, but his weak shot went wide of the right-hand post of the Tiburones’ goal.

As of the 93-minute mark, Tigres did their very best to rev up the match with the team on the attack, to the extent that even Nahuel Guzmán advanced to attempt to take a shot from a corner that could have given them victory, but he was unsuccessful. In this match, the felines lacked accuracy and were unable to take advantage of the opportunities that would have given them the possibility of guaranteeing their participation in the Playoffs.

Right now, the point earned gives Tigres a total of 21 units, placing them momentarily in eighth position and inside the Playoff classification zone, though having to wait for the Cruz Azul vs Toluca result this Sunday. The best outlook for the felines would be a draw, which would assure their spot in the classification zone.

LINEUPS:

Tigres: Nahuel Guzmán; Israel Jiménez, Hugo Ayala, Juninho and Jorge Torres Nilo; Guido Pizarro, Jesús Dueñas (Fernando Fernández 46’), Jürgen Damm (Damián Álvarez 37’) and Javier Aquino; Rafael Sobis (Lucas Zelarayán 60’) and André-Pierre Gignac.

Veracruz: Sergio García; Jesús Paganoni, Leobardo López, Horacio Cervantes and Carlos Calvo; Gabriel Peñalba, Hugo Cid, Fernando Meneses, Gerardo Lugo (Cristian Martínez 55’) and Daniel Villalba (Luis Martínez 78’); Juan Albin (Rodrigo Noya 91’)