Tigres and Pumas Share the Points

SAN NICOLÁS DE LOS GARZA | Saturday, March 12, 2016.- They tried everything, scissors kicks, mid-distance shots, headers in the six-yard box and even shooting at the Pumas goalkeeper, but they were denied the goals and Tigres finished the game 0-0, rescuing one point, even though they deserved more for their extraordinary effort.

Today, Tigres had to tackle every possible problem, apart from coming out onto the field with a very different line-up from the one they have been used to in the tournament, without Guido Pizarro, without Jürgen Damm and without Israel Jiménez.

So, Ricardo Ferretti decided to start with Hugo Ayala on the right wing, Manuel Viniegra as a midfielder replacing Guido, and Lucas Zelarayán as a right-wing midfielder, substituting Damm.

Tigres’ had their first shot at goal after just three minutes by Rafael Sobis, who made an attempt outside the area, but the ball was deflected by the Pumas defense. In the first few minutes, Ferretti’s players appeared to be more organized in the match and determined to go forward, but they didn’t know that their opponent’s goalie would be having an exceptional evening.

Pumas wanted to respond in the sixth minute with a left pass, hoping to catch the defense off-guard, but the ball was cut off in the area by José Rivas when it was coming in dangerously.

The match slid into clashes in the midfield, with a Tigres on top of its rival, endeavoring to penetrate the defense, but without success. Nevertheless, at the 16-minute mark, in a counterattack by the team from Mexico City, Eduardo Herrera found himself alone, shot the ball and overcame Nahuel Guzmán, but Pepe Rivas never gave up and managed to deflect the ball, which hit the post.

Tigres soon had to make their first substitution of the match, at the nineteenth minute when an injured Jesús Dueñas left the field and was replaced by José Torres to cover the midfield. This disconcerted the local team for a while and some brilliant moments from the current runners-up of Mexican football made them suffer.

Little by little, ‘Tuca’s’ men regained control of the ball and at the 27th minute Zelarayán’s goal attempt was blocked by the defense and afterwards there was an attempt outside the box by Javier Aquino, which went just wide of the right-hand post of the goal defended by Alejandro Palacios.

Minute 36 brought yet another substitution, when an injured Jorge Torres Nilo was taken off and replaced by Iván Estrada, forcing the Tigres’ outfield to rearrange, sending Hugo Ayala he center next to Juninho, moving ‘Palmera’ to the left and placing ‘Gutty’ on the right.

With 42’ on the clock, there was confusion on the field when Zelarayán attempted a shot from outside the box that went wide of Palacios’ goal, without much danger. Tigres appeared to be distracted by the players they had lost to injury and the adjustments made from the beginning of the match.

So, the first half ended with the felines from San Nicolás off balance, having had to pick themselves up from the unexpected, make two early substitutions and adjust.

The second half started with the same men who finished the first 45 minutes on the pitch, and the situation on the field was the same: Tigres was struggling to get close to the goal.

However, the 49th minute brought the best opportunity in the game for Ferretti’s players, with a long pass from Gignac and a precise center that left Sobis alone to take his best shot, but the ball ended up in a Palacios’ hands. From that moment on, Tigres began to put the pressure on the away team, seeming to connect on the field.

Tigres now owned the game, gradually gaining confidence until, at the 55-minute mark, Zelarayán managed a great play in the box that ended with a center shot right to the other side, but in a second play, ‘Gringo’ Torres took possession of the ball, hitting the goalpost.

The cheers of encouragement from the fans in the stadium became even louder, and at the 60th minute, Zelarayán had an unmissable opportunity from a fantastic center by Sobis, but his attempt to head the ball home ended up with a catch by Pikolín Palacios.

The game was now one-sided and Gignac made the crowd jump out of their seats twice, first at 75’ with a spectacular scissors kick in the area that flew over the goal, and just a minute later, the Frenchman’s shot forced the goalie Pikolín to stop the ball just as it was about to soar into the net.

The crowd chanted “Come on Champs” from the stands, and the 83rd minute offered another opportunity for André-Pierre, who gained an advantage by making contact with the ball, but Palacios once more blocked the shot with his body.

‘Tuca’ used up his last substitution four minutes from the end, taking Zelarayán off and sending Damián Álvarez onto the field, moving Aquino to the right so ‘Shorty’ could enter on the left.

Tigres was all over Pumas, trying from every area, but had no luck at the end line, and as hard as they tried, they just could not score.

Tigres earned one point on day 10, reaching 15th position on the General Table.

Tigres: Nahuel Guzmán; Hugo Ayala, Juninho, José Rivas y Jorge Torres Nilo (Iván Estrada at 36’); Manuel Viniegra, Jesús Dueñas (José Torres at 19’), Lucas Zelarayán (Damián Álvarez at 86’) and Javier Aquino; Rafael Sobis and André-Pierre Gignac

Pumas: Alejandro Palacios; Marcelo Alatorre, Gerardo Alcoba, Darío Verón y Luis Fuentes (José Van Rankin at 74’); Javier Cortés (Alejandro Castro at 68’), José Ruiz, Ismael Sosa, Matías Britos and Luis Quiñones; Eduardo Herrera (Daniel Ludueña at 87’)

Referee: Luis Enrique Santander Aguirre