Battle of the “felinos”
The final game of the jornada number 5 pitted defending champions Tigres against current leaders Pumas UNAM. The game was supposed to be much more competitive than in the past few seasons. Pumas also had a bit more pressure on them than the last few times these two teams had played because they are sitting at the top of the table and were the home team. This game is always special for Ricardo “Tuca” Ferreti because of his history with Pumas both as a player and a championship winning coach. Pumas lined up in their now familiar 4-2-3-1 and Tigres kept it simple and compact like usual in their 4-4-2 formation.
The first half started slow with both teams being cautious and not wanting to go down in the score early on. Tigres came to life and had the first good chance of the game when Aquino crossed the ball in from the left wing and Gignac got on the end of it but the shot ended up going right to the hands of goalkeeper.
Enner Valencia then had a spectacular scissor kick in the area but it was ruled offsides.
15 minutes in, Pumas finally got the ball and started creating chances. Four minutes later, Pablo Barrera got a pass on the right wing and put in a soft floating cross into the area, Pumas defender, Alejandro Arribas, got on the end of it and headed it passed Nahuel Guzman.
With the lead, Pumas started defending deeper, letting Tigres have the ball but hoping to catch them on a counter attack. In the 34th minute, they got their chance. Barrera once again got the ball on the left wing and put in a perfect pass above the heads of the Tigres defenders. “El Chavo” Matias Alustiza got behind the defenders and put the ball right over Guzman and into the back of the net.
Ferreti had no choice but to move his team up the field and pressure Pumas in order to get a goal back. Tigres quickly fired back with a powerful shot from Israel Jimenez but the Pumas defenders handled it well.
Aquino went out with an injury around the 42nd minute and was replaced by Damm, and the first half ended with Pumas deservedly up 2-0.
El Tuca Ferreti was forced to make two more offensive changes at halftime in order get back in the game, bringing in Vargas and Acosta. With Tigres far up the pitch and desperate for a goal, it became easier for Pumas to catch them off guard.
As such, Tigres was getting more and more worried as the minutes went by. Jimenez was given a yellow for a hard tackle in the 55th. And the hard hits kept coming when a controversial call made the Olimpico Universitario Stadium erupt in anger as Juninho took Nico Castillo down in the area but no penalty was called.
The substitutes, Acosta and Vargas kept trying to generate some offense and created a few chances but nothing too clear. Vargas hit the wall with his free kick in the 64th minute, and in the 72nd minute, Gignac made a good play and got off a good shot but he was called offsides.
As the clock got closer to 90 minutes, Tigres desperately looked for a goal in every conceivable way but to no avail. Damm kept putting in crosses from the right wing but they were all badly delivered or the timing was off.
Near the end of the game, Nico Castillo went down again but was denied a penalty for the second time. Moments later, the whistle blew and the game ended in victory for Pumas.
Tigres could not break Pumas down
After taking the early lead, Pumas built a well-organized defensive wall that Tigres could not break through. Tigres had the ball and created most of the chances in the second half, but their players only managed to show their individual talent and did not look like a team with an actual plan. It was unusual to see Tigres disorganized and desperate, but this game showed that it is possible to throw them off their game. Pumas continued their good form and after twi draws they were able to win again and remain at the top of the standings. Pumas head to Monarcas Morelia next week, while Tigres look to bounce back against Club America.