Tigres through to the Final!
TIJUANA, May 21.- The UANL Tigres will be competing in their tenth Final in the past three years after defeating the Tijuana Xolos 2-0 in the second leg of the Clausura 2017 Semifinal, building on the first-leg score in the Universitario Stadium for an aggregate of 4-0.
Javier Aquino, off a pass from André-Pierre Gignac, scored at minute 64, when Tigres were one man up on the field after Argentine Guido Rodríguez was sent off. Jürgen Damm scored the second in injury time.
The first half was all about strategy, with a team like Tijuana seeking, by whatever means, three passes into the opponent’s box, and Tigres endeavoring to pass the ball without losing possession.
As expected, Tijuana at first had the best goal opportunities, but our side’s defense rose to the challenge, with Guido Pizarro ahead of the central midfielders, playing a pivotal role for clearance and recovery.
At minute 13, Nahuel Guzmán, who has been called up to the Argentine National team, saved Tigres with a backwards dive and then cleared a header from Martín Caraglio with one hand.
Ricardo Ferretti’s men attempted to react at 16’, when Javier Aquino managed to escape down the left flank, entered the area and was pushed over from behind, although the referee considered the play to be clean.
Xolos, at 29’ and 30’, had the best attacking action, when Henry Martín’s shot in the box went over Nahuel’s crossbar, and then it was Henry again who raced past Juninho into the box, but Patón cleared the ball out for a corner.
Towards the end, André-Pierre Gignac received a long pass, forcing his way into the zone, but just as he was ready to shoot, a defense brought him down, though a foul was not called.
Tuca’s half-time substitutions for his squad consisted of replacing Zelarayán with Francisco Meza, the same as in the second leg of the Quarter Finals, and Alberto Acosta with the Peruvian, Luis Advincula.
At minute 49, Guido Pizarro broke away from his own half, made his way through, and, just as he reached the outskirts of the box, was brought down by Guido Rodríguez, who received a second yellow card to leave his team one man down.
This expulsion didn’t mean a change in strategy for our side, who continued to wait for the opponent, knowing that they were forced to attack regardless of what might happen on the pitch.
Gignac had an opportunity from a set-piece situation at 52’, but the ball was sent out for a corner, a play that would end with shot by Aquino that went high.
Later, at 55’, Aquino, gaining confidence, had another opportunity, but went over Lajud’s net without causing him much concern.
Xolos kept the pressure on, and, at 59’, had an opportunity from a direct free kick, but Avilés Hurtado sent the ball into the stands.
However, Gignac arrived from the left, backheeled the ball that found Javier Aquino as he entered the box and finished the play off to bring the score to 1-0 at 64’. This goal meant that the hosts would need four to reach the final round.
At 83’, Jesús Dueñas could have made it two, when Sosa broke away unmarked in a counterattack, passed to the homegrown player, but the ball went wide of the right-hand post of an empty net.
Xolos attempted a last-ditch effort during the final minutes, against a side focused on managing the advantage to assure a spot in their tenth Final in three years, including the Champion of Champions and the Super Copa MX.
Even so, in stoppage time, assisted by Gignac, Jürgen Damm made it 2-0, leaving no doubt that Tigres would be seeking the two-times championship.
TIJUANA: Manuel Lajud; Guido Rodríguez, Joe Corona, Miltón Caraglio, Víctor Malcorra, Henry Martin (Juan Lucero 70’), Damián Pérez (Luis Chávez 58’), Avilés Hurtado (Paul Arriola 71’), Juan Núñez, Hiram Muñoz and Carlos Vargas.
TIGRES: Nahuel Guzmán; Alberto Acosta (Luis Advincula 46’), Juninho, Hugo Ayala, Luis Rodríguez (Júrgen Damm 83’), Guido Pizarro, Jesús Dueñas, Javier Aquino, Ismael Sosa, Lucas Zelarayan (Francisco Meza 46’) and André-Pierre Gignac.
0-1 (64’) André-Pierre Gignac backheels the ball into the center, where Javier Aquino, entering the box, scores with a mid-height shot.
0-2 (92’) Assisted by André-Pierre Gignac, Jürgen Damm finishes the play and scores.
TIJUANA: Guido Rodríguez (6’), Damián Pérez (32’) and Joe Corona (85’)
TIGRES: André-Pierre Gignac (41’) and Hugo Ayala (70’)
TIJUANA: Guido Rodríguez (49’).
REFEREE: Jorge Antonio Pérez
Assistant referee No. 1: Alberto Morín Méndez
Assistant referee No. 2: André Hernández Delgado
Fourth official: Erick Yair Miranda