Semifinals, here we come: 1-0!
SAN NICOLÁS DE LOS GARZA, March 12th.- The UANL Tigres advanced to the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals having defeated Houston Dynamo 1-0 (3-0 aggregate).
The second-half winning goal scored by Carlos Salcedo puts Tigres in the semifinal against Santos from Torreón, looking for a ticket to the Final of a tournament in which they have twice been runners-up.
The match started with an air of uncertainty, although the visitors had the first chance just three minutes in, when a shot by Mauro Manotas missed to the left of Nahuel Guzmán’s goal.
Tigres responded with an attempt by Julián Quiñones, who received a long ball from Carlos Salcedo, but the Colombian’s shot was blocked by the defense.
Minutes went by and, at 11’, Chilean player Eduardo Vargas, after controlling on the edge of the box, got a good look at scoring with a superb lob that Dynamo’s netkeeper saved with one hand, conceding a corner.
Our side was beginning to create opportunities, as reflected at 17’, when Luis Quiñones’ cross just missed to the left.
The visitors, aware that they needed at least two goals, put a great deal of pressure on and, at minute 23, Thomas McNamara’s shot from inside the box was blocked with a low diving save to the left by Nahuel Guzmán.
Four minutes went by and then it was Jesús Dueñas who attempted a mid-distance shot that goalkeeper Willis saved.
Houston was coming close as well, this time at minute 29, when McNamara managed another shot in the box that Nahuel sent out of play for a corner.
However, Tigres wanted and was achieving possession, doing their best to attack, such as at the 39th minute, when Jesús Dueñas crossed into the goal area to Enner Valencia, whose header went over the bar.
Then, at 42’, in a set-piece situation, Guido Pizarro’s shot was too high and wide to the right.
The pace of the game was much the same in the second half, with Houston seeking rapid attacks, while Tigres were enjoying possession and rotation.
Nevertheless, it was our side that generated another opportunity at 49’, when Luis Rodríguez recovered on the edge of the box, but his shot was blocked by the keeper.
Later, at 51’, Dueñas’ cross in an individual play was saved by the goalkeeper and, just as Vargas came forward to finish, a defender cleared the ball away from danger.
Our manager decided at minute 62 to make the first substitution, replacing Luis Quiñones with Javier Aquino, who was back after an injury that had kept him on the sidelines for three weeks.
At 63’, Vargas came close again with a header near the left-hand post, off a cross from Carioca on the right, but the keeper blocked the shot.
A couple of minutes later, at 65’, Carioca crossed into the box and Julián re-centered with a header towards Valencia, but a defender intercepted the ball, conceding a corner.
Proving that persistence pays off, Tigres finally delivered when Aquino’s cross was headed down by Valencia, ready for Carlos Salcedo to fire the ball past the goalkeeper to make it 1-0 (3-0 aggregate).
Houston had an opportunity at 71’ with a shot by Alberth Ellis on the edge of the box, but the ball went over Nahuel’s goal.
At that point, Tuca decided to make two more substitutions, sending on Lucas Zelarayán, who had been kept off the field for five months by an injury, to replace Eduardo Vargas, and then replacing Carioca with Torres Nilo.
Later, at 88’, Dueñas came close to scoring the second when, assisted by Aquino from the left, the Michoacán-born player’s shot missed to the left.
In the end, victory belonged to Tigres, who will now have to wait until the first week of April to face Santos in the First Leg of the Semifinal.
TIGRES: 1 Nahuel Guzmán; 3 Carlos Salcedo, 4 Hugo Ayala, 5 Rafael de Souza (6 Jorge Torres Nilo 85’), 9 Eduardo Vargas (8 Lucas Zelarayán 83’), 13 Enner Valencia, 19 Guido Pizarro, 26 Luis Quiñones (Javier Aquino 62’), 28 Luis Rodríguez, 29 Jesús Dueñas and 33 Julián Quiñones.
MGR.: RICARDO FERRETTI
HOUSTON: 23 Joseph Willis; 6 Aljaz Struna, 7 Damarcus Beasley (3 Adam Lundkvist 19’), 9 Mauro Manotas, 11 Thomas McNamara, 15 Maynor Figueroa (16 Kevin García 74’), 17 Alberth Elis, 20 Aj Delagarza, 22 Matías Vera, 27 Boniek García (10 Tomás Martínez 72’) and 31 Romell Quioto.
MGR.: WILMER CABRERA
1-0 (67’) Javier Aquino’s cross is headed down by Enner Valencia inside the box, ready for Carlos Salcedo to fire the ball past the goalkeeper.
HOUSTON: Maynor Figueroa (45’), Matías Vera (54’) and Aljaz Struna (64’)
REFEREE: Yadel Martínez (CUB)
ASSISTANT REFEREE No. 1: Gerson López (GUA)
ASSISTANT REFEREE No. 2: Yordanis Gómez (CUB)
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Walter López (GUA)