Club Tijuana would outplay Monarcas Morelia almost from whistle to whistle, however a perfectly executed free kick by Morelia’s Diego Valdés ensured the Xolos would get only one point on the night.
Tijuana would get off to a great start, pressuring the ball and forcing Morelia to turning the ball over. In the second minute Ignacio “Nacho” Malcorra, who made his return to the starting lineup from injury, sent a great ball in to Luis “Quick” Mendoza. Quick was in one on one with Morelia goalkeeper Sebastián Sosa, however he scuffed his shot and it rolled harmlessly wide of goal. In the fifth minute however Miller Bolaños would get the border dogs on the board with a running shot on a cross from Ignacio “Nacho” Rivero that Sosa inexplicably watched roll by him.
This would wake Morelia up a bit, who started getting more pressure onto the ball. In the 18th minute Rodrigo Millar hit a header that went just over Gibran Lajud’s net. In the 37th minute, Diego Valdés would knot the match on a magnificent, arcing free kick that went into the top left of Lajud’s net.
Morelia would almost score again in the 44th minute when Millar hit a half volley off of a corner kick that hit off the underside of the crossbar so hard it was clearly audible on the television feed. The ball never crossed the line and was cleared out.
As soon as the second half started, Tijuana pressured Monarcas even harder and Xolos were almost able to re-take the lead. A poor clearance by Gabriel Achilier sent Quick Mendoza in on goal, however his shot wasn’t hit cleanly and Sosa was able to tip it over the bar.
In the 54th minute Bolaños hit a good pass to José Alberto “Beto” García on the right, but Beto’s shot was stopped and pushed wide by Sosa. On the resulting corner kick, Pablo Aguilar would get a head on the ball that Sosa would have to make another stop on. Minutes later, Nacho Rivero would hit a shot from distance that would whistle just over Sosa’s net.
In the 60th minute however Morelia would get a counter in and the resulting shot went just wide of Lajud’s net. In the 67th minute, a fantastic pass from Nacho Malcorra to the trailing Beto García set the striker up perfectly, however his shot hit off of the post and out. Minutes later Bolaños hit a cross into Damián Musto, whose diving header just missed its target.
Morelia would get a decent chance in the 72nd minute when Rodolfo Vilchis headed a cross at the Lajud, however the goalkeeper was able to stop the shot and hold on to it. Tijuana’s pressure was absolutely relentless, and the club ended the match with seven shots on goal and seventeen total shots. Lajud also came up big, making a solid save on the 86th minute when Valdés slipped the coverage and got in one on one with the goalkeeper. Lajud would also make a diving save on a Raúl Ruidíaz shot from distance as the clock struck 90’.
There was some controversy late in the match as Damián Musto was shown a second yellow card on a foul on Valdés, however the contact looked minimal. Regardless, Musto was sent off and as it stands he’ll miss Xolos next match.
Try as they might, Tijuana was just not able to get that second goal. The body language after the match from the Xolos players told the entire story - players were frustrated and looked dejected.
While both teams will not have Liga MX matches next week due to the international break, Tijuana will play Club América on March 24 in a friendly in San Diego before heading to Veracruz to face Tiburones Rojo on April 1. Monarcas will host Chivas on March 30.
Club Tijuana: Gibran Lajud; Damián Pérez, Hiram Muñoz, Pablo Aguilar, Omar Mendoza; Ignacio Malcorra, Ignacio Rivero (Luis Chávez, 79’), Damián Musto, Luis Mendoza (Mateus Gonçalves, 76’); Miller Bolaños (Juan Martín Lucero, 70’); José Alberto García
Monarcas Morelia: Sebastián Sosa; Sebastián Vegas, Gerardo Rodríguez, Gabriel Achilier, Carlos Guzmán; Rodolfo Vilchis (Mario Osuna, 86’), Aldo Rocha, Rodrigo Millar (Juan Pablo Rodríguez, 90+4’), Ray Sandoval (Ángel Sepúlveda, 73’); Diego Valdés, Raúl Ruidíaz
Scoring: Club Tijuana - Miller Bolaños (5’); Monarcas Morelia - Diego Valdés (37’)
Disciplinary: Club Tijuana - Miller Bolaños (Yellow - 15’), Ignacio Rivero (Yellow - 30’), Mateus Gonçalves (Yellow - 89’), Damián Musto (Yellow - 84’, 90+3’), Ignacio Malcorra (Yellow - 90+3’); Monarcas Morelia - Carlos Rodríguez (Yellow - 15’), Anderson Sandoval (Yellow - 32’), Aldo Rocha (Yellow - 85’)