After disappointing loss in the CONCACAF Champions League Final to Pachuca on Wednesday, Tigres were left with trying to make the Liga MX playoffs in 10th place and their status as one of the top clubs in Mexico was on shaky ground. They responded with a strong performance against the best team in Liga MX, completely neutralizing Tijuana in the blazing desert heat.
In an omen of things to come for Xolos, Michael Orozco came off injured in the seventh minute, holding his leg. In the tenth, a Tigres header went just wide of Gibran Lajud. Just two minutes later, disaster struck for Xolos when Guido Pizarro’s through ball was judged to be onside, and Jesús Dueñas slotted it home to make it 1-0.
Gibran Lajud made a good punch of an in-swinging corner kick in the 18th minute to thwart another good chance. Minutes later, Juan Martín Lucero was in on Nahuel Guzman in the Tigres box. Nahuel raced out wide and slid in on Lucero, completely missing the ball and catching Lucero’s feet, however the referee kept his whistle in his pocket.
In the 32nd minute, Ismael Sosa crossed one in from the right to an inexplicably unmarked Andre-Pierre Gignac. Gignac however put his shot well over the bar, and disaster was avoided yet again by Tijuana. Minutes later, Xolos had a good chance of their own. A good run forward by Muñoz led to a pass out to Nacho Malcorra on the left. Malcorra’s cross was headed straight for an inbound Paul Arriola, however it was just barely headed out of danger by Jorge Torres Nilo.
Tigres would double their lead in the 42nd minute when Andre-Pierre Gignac’s deft touch found Lucas Zelarayán, who bolted down the seam and knocked Gignac’s flick-on past Gibran Lajud.
A minute later, it would be Juninho hitting a seeing-eye shot through a mass of humanity and past Lajud to extend Tigres’ lead to three.
After the half, Xolos looked a bit more composed. In the 52nd minute, Gibran Lajud made a fantastic diving save on a shot from Ismael Sosa. A minute Later, Lajud would make another diving stop on a bullet from Javier Aquino to keep Xolos in it.
In the 67th, Juan Martín Lucero had a great individual effort down the line to evade two defenders but his resulting shot was easily stopped by Nahuel. Later in the 75th minute, Lucero looked to have had a goal but it was (correctly) judged to be offside by the assistant referee.
Xolos never really threatened after that, and Tigres was able to pick up three critical points in their quest to make the Liguilla. Tigres plays Querétaro next week while Xolos will host Veracruz.
Tigres: Nahuel Guzmán; Jorge Torres Nilo, Juninho, Hugo Ayala, Luis Rodríguez; Javier Aquino, Guido Pizzaro, Jesús Dueñas, Ismael Sosa (Jürgen Damm, 79’); Lucas Zelarayán (Damián Álvarez, 85’), Andre-Pierre Gignac (Eduardo Vargas, 73’)
Xolos: Gibran Lajud; Carlos Vargas, Carlos Vargas, Juan Carlos Valenzuela, Michael Orozco (Hiram Muñoz, 7’), Juan Carlos Nuñez; Guido Rodríguez; Victor Malcorra, Joe Corona (Henry Martín, 70’), Paul Arriola (Matías Pisano, 58’); Avilés Hurtado, Juan Martín Lucero
Scoring: Tigres - Jesús Dueñas (12’), Lucas Zelarayán (42’), Juninho (43’); Xolos - None
Disciplinary: Tigres - None; Xolos - None