It wasn’t the prettiest game of soccer, but neither Tijuana nor Toluca were ever going to win points in a beauty contest. Instead, fans at Estadio Caliente witnessed the home side get a gritty 2-1 win that saw a combined nine yellow cards given out (and it could easily have ended with less than twenty-two men on the pitch).
Tijuana started the match out abuzz, with players flying up and down the artificial turf at Estadio Caliente. It would be Toluca who would get the first chance at goal however, when in the fourth minute Toluca feigned confusion on a set piece and when Miller Bolaños lost his man, Rubens Sambueza chipped the ball over the Ecuadoran to Ángel Reyna, who hit a shot that rang off of the far post.
¡PALO! (4') Muuuuuy cerca @AngelReynaFut de abrir el marcador— Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports) May 11, 2018
EN VIVO solamente aquí: https://t.co/DGE0vxt8vj #TIJvsTOL pic.twitter.com/kgz4cpu8kQ
In the 11th minute Sambueza went in hard on Damián Musto, stepping on his shins and ankles. Sambu was only shown a yellow card, however on any other night he could easily have seen red.
¿Y no hubo tarjeta? Tremendo pisotón de @rubenssambueza sobre Damián Musto— Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports) May 11, 2018
EN VIVO solamente aquí: https://t.co/DGE0vxt8vj #TIJvsTOL pic.twitter.com/pcIxvzbyXm
In the 14th minute, Juan Carlos “Topo” Valenzuela got his head onto a cross and the ball clattered off of the crossbar and out.
¡TRAVESAÑO! (15') | La tuvo Valenzuela en dos cabezazos, pero el poste y luego la mala puntería evitan el primero de @Xolos— Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports) May 11, 2018
EN VIVO solamente aquí: https://t.co/DGE0vxt8vj #TIJvsTOL pic.twitter.com/0zq5Q52Qhe
Tijuana seemed to favor aerial attacks against Diablos Rojos, with balls being put up into the air seemingly more often than shots being taken. It seemed to be working well, with Toluca goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera having to swat more than one shot away from his net.
Xolos would finally break through in the 28th minute when Bolaños and Gustavo “Pantera” Bou did a neat give and go. Bou bounced the ball over to Juan Lucero, who hit a shot that beat Talavera and put the hosts up 1-0.
What a beauty! Check out @jmlucerooficial goal with the @AztecaDeportes call. #GoXolos #WeAreSoccer #ligamxeng pic.twitter.com/StXIbZBPQh— @Xolos_En (@xolos_en) May 11, 2018
See it again! @jmlucerooficial's goal. Pitch level. Sweetness!! #GoXolos #WeAreSoccer #ligamxeng pic.twitter.com/KBVErGoJ1i— @Xolos_En (@xolos_en) May 11, 2018
In the 34th minute, Pantera Bou almost doubled the lead when he beat a defender and hit a shot that just missed the far post.
¡Qué golazo que te ibas a hacer @gustavobouok! ♂️— Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports) May 11, 2018
EN VIVO @Xolos gana 1-0 a @TolucaFC: https://t.co/DGE0vxt8vj #TIJvsTOL pic.twitter.com/3T0GCiB1Ih
By this time however, Toluca looked mostly out of ideas. They seemed content to foul often and express their extreme and animated displeasure for perceived missed calls by referee Jorge Rojas.
The second half started out much like the first ended. It was gritty and physical but Juan Lucero would break through in the 50th minute to bag his second of the night. Pantera Bou was able to beat his man and hit a fantastic cutback pass toward Lucero, who calmly slotted it past Talavera to give the hosts the 2-0 lead.
¡@Xolos está mordiendo al líder!— Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports) May 11, 2018
- Gran despeje de @gibranlajud25
- La baja espectacularmente @gustavobouok
- BRILLANTE definición de JUAN LUCERO
EN VIVO @Xolos 2-0 @TolucaFC: https://t.co/DGE0vxt8vj #TIJvsTOL pic.twitter.com/q0gTNYLKay
Watch it from the field. @jmlucerooficial extends the lead @xolos_en 2-0 @TolucaFC #GoXolos #WeAreSoccer #ligamxeng pic.twitter.com/x853GWL9HL— @Xolos_En (@xolos_en) May 11, 2018
In the 54th Bolaños would rip a right footed blast that just missed Talavera’s net. In the 60th, Lucero would hit a shot that Talavera had to make a diving save on. Although Tala would bobble the save, he was able to regain control before more damage was done.
¡Era el tercero de Lucero pero @1AlfredoTala tenía otra idea!— Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports) May 11, 2018
EN VIVO @Xolos 2-0 @TolucaFC: https://t.co/DGE0vxt8vj #TIJvsTOL pic.twitter.com/5LBkcCJn1g
In the 69th minute, Bolaños was brought down about 30 yards out. Luis Chávez hit the ensuing free kick which just skimmed the top of the bar.
. @Xolos está mucho más cerca del tercero que @TolucaFC del primero.— Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports) May 11, 2018
EN VIVO @Xolos 2-0 @TolucaFC: https://t.co/DGE0vxt8vj #TIJvsTOL pic.twitter.com/hT1mjPc1hm
The partnership between Pantera Bou and Juan Lucero almost paid off again when Bou was able to hit a fantastic pass up to Lucero. While Lucero was played physically by the Toluca defense there wasn’t enough for referee Rojas to award the penalty.
¡Tremenda jugada del local! Muy cerca @gustavobouok de concretar un jugadón.— Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports) May 11, 2018
EN VIVO @Xolos 2-0 @TolucaFC: https://t.co/DGE0vxt8vj #TIJvsTOL pic.twitter.com/BfNUVHv2K0
As the game grew closer to the 90 minute mark, the teams both seemed intent on slowing the game down and fouling as much as possible. Toluca was able to draw one back deep into added time when Sambu hit a free kick into the box. Pablo Barrientos got his head onto the ball and redirected it to Fernando Uribe, whose header beat Gibran Lajud.
¡GOOOL! (90'+4') | ¡DOBLE CABEZAZO EN EL ÁREA ES GOL!— Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports) May 11, 2018
Tiro libre de @rubenssambueza, la peina Pablo Barrientos y Fernando Uribe anota el descuento con el que nos vamos a la vuelta.@Xolos 2-1 @TolucaFC #TIJvsTOL pic.twitter.com/YPXpPEriHD
The teams will head to Toluca with Tijuana up 2-1. They’ll resume the series on Sunday in the early match.
Game: Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente vs. Deportivo Toluca Fútbol Club S.A. de C.V
Date: Thursday, May 10th
Time: 10:30 p.m. Eastern, 9:30 p.m. Central, 7:30 p.m. Pacific, 2:30 a.m. UTC
Venue: Estadio Caliente (Tijuana, B.C.)
Referees: REF: Jorge Isaac Rojas Castillo, AR1: José Luis Camargo Callado, AR2: Jose Ibrahim Martinez Chavarria, 4TH: Adonai Escobedo Gonzalez
Television: United States - Univision Deportes Network; Mexico - Azteca 7
Streaming: Fanatiz, fuboTV (Free trial + monthly subscription), Sling (Free trial + monthly subscription), Univision NOW, Facebook Live
Club Tijuana: Gibran Lajud: Damián Pérez, Juan Carlos Valenzuela, Pablo Aguilar, Omar Mendoza; Damián Musto, Miller Bolaños (Alejandro Guido, 78’), Luis Chávez, Luis Mendoza (Julio Angulo, 89’); Gustavo Bou (Igancio Malcorra, 83’), Juan Lucero
These are our stating XI in tonight's SEMIFINALS match. #Goxolos #WeAreSoccer #ligamxeng pic.twitter.com/hVvqt8cD8m— @Xolos_En (@xolos_en) May 11, 2018
Toluca FC: Alfredo Talavera; Cristian Borja, Santiago García, Osvaldo González, Rodrigo Salinas; Antonio Ríos; Luis Quiñones (Martin Abundiz, 74’), Pablo Barrientos, Ángel Reyna (Jorge Sartaguín, 62’), Rubens Sambueza; Fernando Uribe
#XOLvsTOL |— Toluca FC (@TolucaFC) May 11, 2018
¡Listo el once inicial de nuestros Diablos para enfrentar a @Xolos en la ida de las semifinales! #MásRojoQueNunca pic.twitter.com/Pl1hXtThJE
Scoring: Club Tijuana - Juan Lucero (28’, 50’); Toluca FC - Fernando Uribe (90+4’)
Disciplinary: Club Tijuana - Damián Musto (Yellow - 44’), Luis Mendoza (Yellow - 52’), Juan Lucero (Yellow - 57’), Miller Bolaños (Yellow - 78’), Luis Mendoza (Yellow - 89’); Toluca FC - Luis Quiñones (Yellow - 8’), Rubens Sambueza (Yellow - 11’), Pablo Barrientos (Yellow - 88’)