Tigres wins in their Champions League debut
HEREDIA, Costa Rica | Wednesday, August 17, 2016.- At first, Tigres suffered in the hands of their hosts, taking their time to settle in on the field. However, they finally beat Herediano as visitors, thus earning their first three points in the CONCACAF Champions League, placing them as Group G leaders.
Damián Álvarez was the felines’ captain and also the man who opened the doors to victory, not just by scoring, but also by commanding the team when his experience was most needed.
Even though the team found it hard to adapt since the hadn’t played together on a regular basis, they ultimately scored goals and cornered the Costa Ricans on their synthetic turf. Now Tigres will host Plaza Amador, from Panama, next Wednesday.
Tigres presented an alternative, though top quality, team for the start of the Champions League, with the veteran Damián Álvarez leading the eleven sent by Ricardo Ferretti onto the pitch. ‘Enano’, as Álvarez is known, was joined in the attack by the Paraguayan Fernando Fernández and Jürgen Damm.
The midfield was comprised of Manuel Viniegra, Jesús Dueñas and Luis Silva, who made his debut with the felines after playing for Real Salt Lake in the MLS, while the center was made up of José Rivas and Miguel Herrera, accompanied on the flanks by Luis ‘Chaka’ Rodríguez and Jorge Torres Nilo, as well as Enrique Palos in the goal.
The most striking feature of the team’s formation was the flexibility in the attacking positions, with Damián and Damm interchanging zones, leaving ‘Quesos’ alone at the forefront seeking passes and Silva acting as the liaison between the forwards.
Tigres found it hard to adapt in the first few minutes – this was the first match this team had played together – leaving huge holes at times between the midfield and the forwards, since Silva was far more concerned with supporting recovery.
The felines found it hard to settle in throughout the first half and even though they were in possession of the ball most of the time, they failed to play vertically. In the last third of the field they were unable to create any danger, although the man who demonstrated the greatest intensity and sought the most goal opportunities was Damián, with breakaways along the left and at times running with the ball from the center.
Herediano were the most dangerous team, smashing two balls into the posts, one from a free kick and the other with a header that miraculously landed in Palos’ hands.
At the start of the second half, Ricardo Ferretti replaced Luis Silva with Jonathan Espericueta in the same position, imbuing the attack with greater speed and freshness. They were just settling in on the field when Dueñas sent the ball to Damm, who from the box and sent a cross to the center to ‘Quesos’ who arrived in time to send a shot into the back of the net.
Just as Tigres was playing its best, the Costa Ricans equalized with a long pass, taking advantage when they broke through the defense and nudged the ball in.
The match was at its peak, with the hosts slamming balls into the posts, which were rejected and deflected by the visitors.
‘Tuca’ took Damm off and replaced him with Luis Quiñones, seeking to gain greater ball control and depth, something that the felines appeared to dominate, making them look the far more dangerous side. Tigres gradually took control of the match, playing together as a team to obtain a victory, although Herediano gave them a few scares.
In the three Champions League matches they’ve played against each other, the felines have never lost, having tied twice and then won today. They are now at the top of Group G with three points.
1-1 (55’) Jesús Sánchez, who came on as a substitute, sent the ball into the back of the net in his very first shot, taking advantage of a cross into the center of the feline’s box.
0-1 (46’) Goal by Fernando Fernández who passed a fine low ball to Jürgen Damm along the right.
1-2 (77’) Damián Álvarez took advantage of a ball on the rebound from the defense that landed right in front of the goal, beating the goalie at the near post.
1-3 (90’) Jonathan Espericueta took advantage of a ball deflected by the Costa Rican goalkeeper, shooting from outside the box and defeating Herediano’s goal.
Herediano: Leonel Moreira; Pablo Salazar, Allan Miranda, Mauricio Núñez (José Sánchez 55’) and Leonardo González (Víctor Núñez 75’); Esteban Granados, Randall Azofeifa, José Cubero, Esteban Ramírez (Jonathan Hansen 46’); Elías Aguilar and Yendrick Ruiz
Tigres: Enrique Palos; Luis Rodríguez, Miguel Herrera, José Rivas and Jorge Torres Nilo; Manuel Viniegra, Jesús Dueñas and Luis Silva (Jonathan Espericueta 46’); Jürgen Damm (Luis Quiñones 76’), Fernando Fernández and Damián Álvarez (Julián Quiñones 83’)
Referee: Marlon Mejía (El Salvador)
Herediano: Allan Miranda (64’)
Tigres: Enrique Palos (67’), Damián Álvarez (82’)