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2018 Clausura Liguilla match recap: Tigres UANL 2, Santos Laguna 0

Tigres heads to Torreón up two goals, however both sets of fans can be forgiven for being upset with the officiating.

Tigres UANL v Tijuana - Torneo Clausura 2018 Liga MX Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images

Polémica. It’s the Spanish word for “controversy”. There was plenty of it in the Liguilla match betwen Tigres UANL and Santos Laguna. While the hosts came away with the two goal advantage, both they and the visitors can be forgiven for complaining about the officiating.

Early in the match Santos did well to disrupt Tigres’ possession, getting men into the spaces usually exploited by the hosts’ Tuca-taka style of quick, short passes. The visitors were doing well until the 21st minute when disaster struck. Off of a free kick, Hugo Ayalo went up over Carlos Izquierdoz in the mixer and got his head on the ball. The shot went back against the grain and past the outstretched arms of Jonathan Orozco to give Tigres the lead.

There was a bit of controversy about ten minutes later when Carlos Izquierdoz was wiped out by Javier Aquino. While Aquino saw no card for the foul, Djaniny Tavares was shown one for a foul when play was whistled on.

Minutes later, there was more controversy at the other end when Brian Lozano was bumped outside of the Tigres’ box. The contact looked to be minimal, but the free kick was given. The resulting shot by Lozano whistled just wide of the net.

Djaniny almost equalized just before the end of the first half when he went up in the mixer and got his head on the corner kick. Fortunately for the hosts, his header whistled just wide of Nahuel Guzmán’s net.

As the rain started to fall in the second half, and the first good opportunity didn’t come until the 49th minute when André-Pierre Gignac played an excellent give and go but his shot was well over the bar.

There was more controversy near the 60th minute when Jürgen Damm was driving down the right side, defended by Bryan Angulo. Angulo made contact with Damm, who went flying into the signboards but the whistle did not come.

Although both teams had looks at goal, neither team had a solid opportunity to score and it looked like that would be it until the 79th minute when Carloz Izquierdoz was whistled for a (controversial) penalty when a shot by Gignac ricocheted off of his chest and into his arm.

Perhaps it was a bit harsh of a call, but it was called nonetheless. Gignac stepped up and converted the penalty to double Tigres’ lead.

Try as they might to get an away goal, Santos was ultimately stymied by Tigres’ defense and the match ended 2-0. The return leg will be on Sunday, and will again be broadcast in English via Univision Deportes’ Facebook Live.

Tigres UANL: Nahuel Guzmán; Javier Aquino, Jorge Torres Nilo, Juninho, Hugo Ayala, Jürgen Damm (Israel Jiménez, 71’); Rafael de Souza, Jesús Dueñas, Eduardo Vargas (Lucas Zelarayán, 66’); André-Pierre Gignac, Enner Valencia

Santos Laguna: Jonathan Orozco; Bryan Angulo, Gerardo Alcoba, Carlos Izquierdoz, José Abella, Jorge Villafaña (Javier Cortés, 35’); José Juan Vázquez, Jesús Isijara (Jonathan Rodríguez, 61’), Brian Lozano; Djaniny Tavares, Julio Furch (Edwin Cetré - 78’)

Scoring: Tigres UANL - Hugo Ayala (22’), André-Pierre Gignac (79’ - penalty); Santos Laguna - None

Disciplinary: Tigres UANL - Hugo Ayala (Yellow - 33’); Santos Laguna - Djaniny Tavares (Yellow - 29’), José Juan Vázquez (Yellow - 51’), José Abella (Yellow - 58’)