Atletico Mineiro vs. Tijuana, 2013 Copa Libertadores: Final score 1-1, heartbreak in Minas Gerais

Denis Doyle

Tijuana Xolos bowed out of the Copa Libertadores in the most painful way possible, missing a stoppage time penalty.

Tijuana have been bounced out of Copa Libertadores in the most painful way possible. After going ahead early against Atletico Mineiro, they conceded a goal thanks to some awful set piece defending. In the dying minutes of the match, the home side conceded a penalty, but Victor came up with a massive save to deny PLAYER. Tijuana drew 1-1 on the night, going down on away goals in a 3-3 aggregate draw.

Duvier Riascos nearly got Tijuana on the board after just 13 seconds when he forced Victor into a tough save. In the 15th minute, Tijuana appeared to have a goal on a free kick, but it was disallowed with Javier Gandolfi drawing the flag for offside.

Those events set the tone for the eventual goal, which Riascos scored with a neat assist from Richard Ruiz. In the 26th minute, Ruiz bombed down the right flank and crossed for Riascos, who hit a perfect half volley past Victor, to the far post from 15 yards.

Needing a goal, Atletico Mineiro picked up the pace and put Tijuana under pressure for the remainder of the first half. They found an equalizer in the 40th minute, and it was a soft one. Rever was completely abandoned at the back post on a free kick by Ronaldinho and scored an uncontested tap-in to level the score on the night and put his team up on away goals.

With the pressure back on Tijuana to attack, they took over in the second half. While they had plenty of chances to score, their finishing was poor. Riascos had Xolos' best chance from open play in the 69th minute when he found himself one-on-one with Victor inside the penalty area, but could only manage to put his shot right into the Atletico Mineiro keeper's stomach. In the 78th minute, Tijuana failed to make the most of another chance as Fernando Arce struck the crossbar with a free kick.

Tijuana were stretched at the back in the final minutes as they desperately pushed forward for a goal. The hosts almost iced the game in the 88th minute when Ronaldinho found an onrushing Diego Tardelli on a counter, setting him up with what looked like a clinching goal, but Cirilo Saucedo made a big save to keep his team's chances alive.

That save was almost crucial in the result of the tie. In the first minute of stoppage time, Tijuana were granted a penalty on a foul by Leonardo Silva in the penalty area. The call was a soft one, but Silva put himself and the referee in a poor spot. In the end, it didn't matter, as Riascos had his penalty saved by Victor.

Atletico Mineiro advance to the semifinals, where they will face Newell's Old Boys. Tijuana's season is now over, and it couldn't have ended in more gut-wrenching fashion.

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