It was never going to be easy for Tijuana to go to Estadio Azteca and get even a point against Club América. The hosts were strong and with Liga MX leaders Cruz Azul failing to get a point against Querétaro, the stage was set for América to take possession of the top of the table - if they could beat Tijuana.
Going with a 5-4-1 formation for the first time in memory under manager Diego Cocca, the plan for Tijuana was simple: don’t concede a goal. They kept men behind the ball and on the rare occasion they broke forward it was only two of the forwards pressing forward.
It would not last.
In the seventh minute, Diego Lainez and Diego “Pulpo” González would get tangled up - literally. Their shoes got locked together and América was awarded a foul just outside of the box. Emanuel Aguilera would take the free kick and hit a beautiful arcing shot that froze Gibran Lajud, and the hosts were up.
Ema Aguilera literally translates to Argentinian Messi pic.twitter.com/Nug2IdeGZL— Club América (@ClubAmerica_EN) October 21, 2018
This would force Tijuana to open up their game. Tijuana started pressuring forward more but was unable to unlock América’s defense fully. Perhaps the best chance for Tijuana in the first half would come when Eryc Castillo had a wide-open shot in the 24th minute that whistled just wide of goalkeeper Agustín Marchesín’s net. Erick “Cubo” Torres would get his head on a free kick in the 36th minute, but could not direct it on frame.
América for the most part looked content to allow Tijuana to run at them, putting faith in to their back line holding stout and Marchesín making critical saves. When they were able to break, Tijuana’s defense stood strong and goalkeeper Gibran Lajud did well to stop most of what came at him.
Just before the half though, América would drive down the field and while it looked like the ball was going out for a Xolos goal kick, Renata Ibarra came down to keep the play alive. Ibarra would gain some space and center the ball to Andrés Ibargüen, who would tap the ball past Gibran Lajud for América’s second goal of the evening.
At the start of the second half Lajud would have to make a big save right off of the bat, stoning Ibarra from close range. He’d come up big again minutes later on a shot from Ibargüen, but in the 59th minute Diego Lainez would hit a stunner from just above the top of the arc to give the hosts a 3-0 lead.
After that, the game was all but decided. Xolos never really threatened going forward, and América didn’t look interested in punishing the visitors any further.
Next week América will be the away team at the Azteca as Cruz Azul “hosts” them on Saturday. Tijuana will head back to Baja California to host Pumas next Saturday at the Mictlán.
Club América: Agustín Marchesín; Jorge Sánchez, Emanuel Aguilera, Bruno Valdéz, Paul Aguilar; Andrés Ibargüen, Matheus Uribe, Guido Rodríguez, Renato Ibarra (Cristian Insaurralde, 60’; Edson Álvarez, 78’); Diego Lainez, Roger Martínez (Henry Martín, 71’)
S Q U A D— Club América (@ClubAmerica_EN) October 20, 2018
1️⃣9️⃣ Ema Aguilera
2️⃣2️⃣ Paul Aguilar
1️⃣1️⃣ Andrés Ibargüen
9️⃣ @rogermartinezt9 pic.twitter.com/0eaHXerlgA
Club Tijuana: Gibran Lajud; Luis Fuentes, Gustavo Canto (Miller Bolaños, 46’), Julián Velázquez, Juan Carlos Valenzuela, Omar Mendoza; Fabián Castillo (Rubio Rubín, 74’), Diego González, Diego Rodríguez, Eryc Castillo; Erick Torres (Luis Chávez, 58’)
Scoring: Club América - Emanuel Aguilera (7’), Andrés Ibargüen (45+1’), Diego Lainez (59’); Club Tijuana - None
Disciplinary: Club América - None; Club Tijuana - Gustavo Canto (Yellow - 21’), Diego González (Yellow - 69’)