Tigres is the eighth guest to the Playoffs
MEXICO, May 7.-The UANL Tigres were decisive. They waited patiently for their opponent and became the Playoff’s eighth team by beating the Cruz Azul ‘Machine’ 3-0.
André-Pierre Gignac scored two goals, practically making him the champion individual goal scorer with a total of 13, since his closest rival has just nine.
The match started somewhat hesitantly, slowly, with the local team seeking to be more orderly than Tigres, who started with patience and excellent ball control.
In Jürgen Damm’s absence, this time the manager Ricardo Ferretti turned to Damián Álvarez, who usually has a strong impact as a substitute, to provide options on the left-hand side.
Javier Aquino, who was revisiting the home that launched him in the First Division, played a fantastic game on the right.
André-Pierre Gignac began to play in harmony with Rafael Sobis, something they made quite clear at minute 14, when the French player passed the ball to the Brazilian, who managed to make a space and then crossed the ball into the net just inside the right-hand post, bringing the score to 1-0.
The goal ignited the approximately 2 thousand ‘incomparable’ fans who had travelled to the Azul Stadium, making their dream of reaching the Playoffs more of a reality.
Tigres, far from playing defensively and holding back, maintained their keynote strategy of possessing the ball and seeking recovery from the midfield, where Guido Pizarro once more proved to be a solid stronghold against the light-blues’ attacks.
Later, at minute 24, Gignac escaped to score an incredible goal. It was now 2-0 for our team and 12 for the Frenchman in the 2016 Winter Tournament (Clausura).
Three minutes later, Israel Jiménez fouled Ariel Rojas, who was awarded a penalty. Christián Jiménez took the penalty kick and smashed the ball into the post, while his attempt from the rebound was stopped by Nahuel, although the referee had in fact already signaled that the Cruz Azul player was offside.
It was Tigres’ moment, and Gignac wanted to make the most of it. At the 32-minute mark his opportunity for the third goal was blocked several times by the goalie.
The Machine, as Cruz Azul is known, tried to react with long passes down the sides, but Hugo Ayala played brilliantly and twice broke up dangerous options at Nahuel’s goal.
In the second half, Tuca made his first change of the match, replacing Dueñas with Manuel Viniegra, seeking to refresh the recovery in the midfield and defensive zones.
On the other hand, the local team brought on Joffre Guerrón, a well-known and experienced player, to replace Jiménez, while Santos substituted Maza Rodríguez. The managers were beginning to play from the sidelines.
Cruz Azul started to gain greater ball possession, with Santos looking extremely dangerous on the left, where Tigres had to work harder.
The light-blues’ insistence was becoming unrelenting against Tigres who were waiting for the opponent, until 61’ when Joao Rojas was sent off for hitting Nahuel Guzmán when he did not have the ball.
Even though they were one man down, Cruz Azul didn’t give up and kept trying to find opportunities in Tigres’ area.
At 63’, Damián tried to break away from the left, but was unable to complete the pass. Then, at the 65th minute, Gignac had yet another opportunity, but his shot went wide of the left post.
However at minute 75, Lucas Zelarayan, who had replaced Aquino, crossed the ball to Gignac, who scored from inside the box bringing the result to 3-0 and setting our team firmly on the path to the Playoffs and the title.
At 82’, Fabio Santos had the ball on the edges of the area, but his shot flew over Nahuel’s goal and, at this point, the Cruz Azul fans started to make their way out of the stadium.
The Machine kept trying, while Tigres sought to maintain possession of the ball and safeguard the score during the last minutes of the match.
At the end, the team and the fans celebrated this victory together, while being fully aware that the most important phase of the 2016 Winter Tournament (Clausura) is about to start.
CRUZ AZUL: José Corona; Francisco Rodríguez (Fabio Santos 46’), Julio Domínguez, Víctor Vázquez (Vicente Vuoso 63’), Christian Jiménez (Joffre Guerrón 46’), Joao Rojas, Aldo Ramírez, Ariel Rojas, Rafael Baca, Jorge Benítez and Omar Mendoza.
TIGRES: Nahuel Guzmán; Israel Jiménez (José Fco. Torres 81’), Juninho, Hugo Ayala, Jorge Torres Nilo; Jesús Dueñas (Manuel Viniegra 46’), Guido Pizarro, Javier Aquino (Lucas Zelarayan 74’), Damián Álvarez, Rafael Sobis and André-Pierre Gignac.