Few professional soccer matches can provide the same amount of intensity that was witnessed by fans in the Estadio Azteca this evening as Club América and Tigres battled to 2-2 draw.
Tonight’s match got off to a shocking start as Tigres put out a starting XI without star players Andre-Pierre Gignac, Ismael Sosa, or Edu Vargas. Despite lacking three of their best players, Tigres managed to control all the action early on in the match and boss a hapless looking Club América around the pitch. Lucas Zelarayán, who has already shown his class this season, was the piece that made Tigres tick offensively for much of the first half. His movement, passing, and positioning seemed to catalyze everything positive for Tigres. Just 9 minutes into the match, Zelerayán played an exquisite through ball to Jurgen Damm that should have put Tigres into the lead, but Marchesín heroically came off his line and snuffed out the attacking chance.
América continued to look hapless on both sides of the ball and nearly paid the price as Tigres were once again able to easily cut their way through the defense and create a scoring chance in the 15th minute. Thankfully for las Águilas, Javier Aquino’s shot hit a Tigres player who was standing in an offsides position before crossing the goal line. A mere two minutes later Oribe Peralta blasted a shot over the top of the goal at the end of Club América’s first real attacking chance. Almost immediately after blasting a shot over the top of the cross bar, las Águilas cheaply gave away a penalty as Miguel Saudio fouled Jurgen Damm. However, upon viewing the replay it appeared as though the foul took place outside of the area. Ener Valencia stepped up and calmly slotted home the penalty to give Tigres a deserved 1-0 lead in the 20th minute.
After taking the lead, Tigres inexplicably began to drop back into a more defensive shape and allowed the previously hapless looking Águilas back into the match. Ten minutes after falling behind Oribe Peralta nearly brought Club América back level, but his shot from inside the box went well over the goal. Then, in the 40th minute, Darwin Quintero provided a moment of brilliance to set up William Da Silva to level the match at 1-1.
The second half started off with a bang as Miguel Samudio’s long range effort in the 49th minute came agonizingly close to giving las Águilas the lead as it struck the post and went out of play. From that moment onward it seemed inevitable that Club América were going to take the lead. The team was firing on all cylinders and came close to taking the lead again when Oribe Peralta’s header flew narrowly over the crossbar. Again las Águilas came close to scoring as Nahuel Gomez was forced to make an incredible reaction save to keep the match level at 1-1.
In the 70th minute, completely against the run of play Tigres launched a clinical counter attack that was aided by some shameful defending inside of the box to take a 2-1 advantage. Jurgen Damm sent what appeared to be a wildly inaccurate cross into the box, but Enner Valencia was somehow allowed to reach the ball first and sent a thunderous strike into the back of the net.
Valencia’s goal seemed to shell shock las Águilas who were unable to muster much of a response for the first ten or so minutes afterwards. Tigres on the other hand seemed to revert back to playing like the dominant force on the field. It seemed all but certain that the visitors were going to take all three points from the match. In the 85th minute Darwin Quintero whipped in a corner kick into a dangerous area of the box. The powerful corner was headed towards goal forcing Guzman to make a save. However, instead of controlling the ball comfortably Guzman fumbled it right into the path of “Wero” Diaz who calmly slotted the ball into the back of the net to level the score at 2-2.
The last five plus minutes of the match proved to be absolute mayhem has both teams raced up and down the pitch in an attempt to secure the winning goal. Both teams went close as ad header after header and shot after shot flew in all directions except into the back of the net with Bruno Valdez’s header being the final action of the match.
Miguel Herrera is likely to be a bit disappointed that his side were unable to take all three points from a less than full strength Tigres squad. However, that being said, Herrera’s squad finally showed that they have grit and pride for the colors they wear. Far to often this season the team has looked lost and without identity scraping out victories thanks to individual talent. Hopefully tonight’s match proves to be a catalyst towards more positive play in the future from las Águilas.