SAN NICOLÁS DE LOS GARZA, February 26th.- A brilliant match by the UANL Tigres led to a 5-1 (5-2 aggregate) victory over Saprissa, from Costa Rica, earning them a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League Quarter Finals.
A hat trick by Enner Valencia, one goal by Eduardo Vargas and an own goal gave Ricardo Ferretti’s team the win they needed to prove their standing.
Tigres will now be travelling to Houston, Texas, on Monday to play against Dynamo, in the first leg of the Quarter Final match.
From the very start of the match, Tigres’ objective was clearly to attack, against a visitor who sought to block the ball as much as possible, though hadn’t ruled out any chance to strike Nahuel’s goal.
Three minutes in, Julián Quiñones attempted a shot in the box, but the defense, anticipating his intention, cleared the ball away from danger. Two minutes afterwards, the Colombian once more tried to score, assisted by Javier Aquino, but the defense intervened.
Saprissa responded at 11’, when Juan Bustos called for the ball outside the box, received, but his mid-range shot was intercepted by Nahuel Guzmán.
However, our side’s strong attack on the Costa Rican goal was relentless and, at minute 15, caused defender Aubrey David to clumsily return a ball to his goalkeeper, who collided with the defender, allowing the ball to roll into the net 1-0 closely watched by Enner Valencia.
Tigres continued to attack, but the rough play on the pitch soon affected both Javier Aquino and Valencia.
Soon after, at 24’, Quiñones, assisted brilliantly by Jesús Dueñas inside the box, came close, but the goalkeeper intervened. Eduardo Vargas found the rebound, but Bustos blocked the shot with his hand and the referee awarded a penalty for a hand ball.
Just a minute later, Enner Valencia converted the penalty with a shot into the bottom righ-hand corner, making it 2-0 and putting Tigres ahead in the series.
Two minutes went by and the Universitario Stadium exploded when Dueñas broke away along the right, crossed to the near post, where Valencia finished, making it 3-0 and driving the Incomparable fans into a frenzy.
The visitors had a chance at 31’, with another shot by Bustos that was brilliantly saved by Nahuel, whose skill was loudly applauded.
Soon after, Vargas came close to the fourth, when he received inside the box, but the Chilean took too long with the shot, giving the goalkeeper a chance to intervene.
However, Vargas persistently created opportunities and, at 36’, finally found the fourth, when Valencia broke away along the right, penetrated the box, cut back diagonally to the Chilean, who crossed to bring the aggregate score to 4-1.
Just a few minutes later, at 40’, Valencia came close to the fifth, when Vargas passed to the Ecuadorian inside the box, but the defense intercepted the shot.
Saprissa came close at 42’ when Rubilio Castillo broke away along the right, though his shot was saved one-handedly by Nahuel and found Marvin Angulo, but Dueñas protected Tigres’ goal with a sliding tackle.
At 45’, the visitors scored a goal, trying to get back into the fight, when Mariano Torres put the ball into the upper left-hand corner of the net with a mid-range shot, making it 4-1.
After the break, Tuca made his first substitution, replacing Israel Jiménez with Luis Rodríguez in an area where the opponent was doing the most damage.
The pace of the game lost some of its intensity, which is what Tigres wanted, since they were in control of the match and the score.
Nevertheless, at 57’, Quiñones crossed inside the box to Luis Rodríguez, who shook off a defender and then passed looking for Vargas, but the Chilean player was unable to control.
Shortly afterwards, at 61’, Carioca made a mistake and gave the ball to Angulo, who broke into the box and passed to Leal, who had just come on, but his attempt was wide to the right.
Just a few seconds later, Enner Valencia received a long pass inside the box, shook off an opponent, came face-to-face with the net and, with a powerful shot, brought the score to a spectacular 5-1.
Then, at 64’, Vargas had an opportunity outside the box, but his shot went over the bar.
Vargas almost scored the sixth at 70’, when Jürgen Damm, who had come on to replace Valencia, sent a cross that the defense left at the Chilean’s feet in front of the goal, but he was unable to get into a position to shoot.
Quiñones had his turn at minute 79, receiving inside the goal area, but his shot was blocked and saved in two moves by the keeper, before Vargas could come forward to complete the play.
Quiñones created yet another opportunity when, at 86’, he controlled outside the box, broke through, but his shot went just wide of the right post.
Aquino came close to the sixth at minute 90, when, assisted by Damm from the right, he overcame the goalkeeper, but the shot was wide to the right.
TIGRES: 1 Nahuel Guzmán; 2 Israel Jiménez (28 Luis Rodríguez 46’), 3 Carlos Salcedo, 5 Rafael de Souza (19 Guido Pizarro 74’), 6 Jorge Torres Nilo, 9 Eduardo Vargas, 13 Enner Valencia (25 Jürgen Damm 67’), 20 Javier Aquino, 21 Francisco Meza, 29 Jesús Dueñas and 33 Julián Quiñones.
MGR.: RICARDO FERRETTI
SAPRISSA: 13 Aarón Cruz; 2 Christian Bolaños, 7 Johan Venegas (28 Jairo Arrieta 83’), 9 Rubilio Castillo (5 Alejandro Cabral 46’), 10 Marvin Angulo (8 Randall Leal 60’), 11 Michael Barrantes, 12 Ricardo Blanco, 20 Mariano Torres, 21 Juan Bustos, 29 Luis Hernández and 52 Aubrey David
MGR.: WALTER CENTENO
- (15’) Aubry David returns the ball to the goalkeeper, but they end up colliding into each other, allowing the ball to roll into the net.
2-0 (25’) Penalty converted by Enner Valencia to the bottom right corner.
3-0 (27’) Jesús Dueñas breaks away down the right and crosses to Enner Valencia who puts the ball inside the near post
4-0 (36’) Enner Valencia breaks away along the right and cuts back to Eduardo Vargas, who scores with a diagonal cross.
4-1 (45’) Mariano Torres long-range shot into the upper left corner.
5-1 (61’) Enner Valencia controls in the box, shakes off a defender and scores.
SAPRISSA: Ricardo Blanco (18’), Juan Bustos (24’)
REFEREE: Joel Aguilar (SLV)
ASSISTANT REFEREE No. 1: Juan Fco. Zumba (SLV)
ASSISTANT REFEREE No. 2: Henri Pupiro (NCA)
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Travester Richards (SKN)