Tigres became the first team in the Liguilla to get an away win as they defeated America 2-1 in a controversial game. They might not have been fun to watch, but Tigres got the win and now are clear favorites to go through to the Semifinals with a home game left and an America team that couldn’t break through their solid defense. America might now blame the bad job done by the referee but the fact is that they lacked ideas against a Tigres team that didn’t really shine on offense.
The first half started with a field that was playable but still had signs from the Monday Night Football NFL game that was played in Estadio Azteca last week. America tried to go on the offense, taking advantage of being at home and that Tigres was debuting a goalkeeper in Miguel Ortega. The game was very even as Tigres had a solid defensive display that America had a hard time breaking through. It was into the middle of the first half when Ortega had to make a save of a Giovani Dos Santos long range shot. America had another chance but Jorge Sanchez made a terrible pass to a wide open Dos Santos.
America should have opened the scoring when Dos Santos made a great cross to Henry Martin, but he made a terrible header to waste a golden opportunity. But it wouldn’t take long for Ortega to be factor. Ortega made a terrible clearance off a cross and left the ball to Richard Sanchez, who took a long range shot into the net for the 1-0.
America almost made it two when a Gio cross went to Renato Ibarra, but his shot was blocked by the Tigres defense. America kept at it but never came as close until halftime, while Tigres looked like it was winning with their lack of response to America’s goal.
The second half started with Tigres trying to propose some kind of offense, and it didn’t take long for Los Felinos to surprise America off a corner kick. Guido Pizarro rose to head the ball past America’s keeper Guillermo Ochoa for the 1-1.
America tried to go on the offense and came close when a cross by Dos Santos was cleared by the Tigres defense just before Martin arrived to it. Then controversy arose when Richard Sanchez got brought down by Diego Reyes and the ref gave a penalty kick, although replays looked like it might not have been so. The ref went to the VAR and the ref called it back.
The controversy would increase when after that, the ref gave Tigres a penalty kick after Javier Aquino got brought down by Sanchez. The ref went to the VAR but this time reconfirmed the call. Andre-Pierre Gignac took the penalty kick and scored with a strong kick but Rafael Carioca got into the area in a really stupid play. The ref forced for Gignac to take it again and he was able to score it for the 2-1.
America went on trying to get the equalizer and getting desperate, subbing out Dos Santos for Andres Ibarguen. Later it was Nicolas Benedetti who got subbed on for Sebastian Cordova. Still Tigres was doing a good job of cooling the game and Ortega wasn’t even being tested.
America had a great chance when Benedetti made a great play and found Paul Aguilar in the area, but he made a terrible shot with his left foot and wasted a great opportunity. Roger Martinez then had a chance from outside the area but his shot also went wide. Then in a confusing play, Tigres had a great counter attack in which Luis Quiñones was going alone into the area but the ref called a stop because of going to the VAR to see a possible penalty for America by Tigres. He didn’t give it, but in stopping the game, he had totally blown an opportunity for Tigres to counter in a terrible decision.
In the final play of the game, off a corner kick, Emmanuel Aguilera had a chance but he whiffed on the shot, a comically bad way to end the game for America.
While Tigres didn’t excite anybody but their fans, they had a solid game defensively and woke up from a lackluster first half on offense to tie and get the win. America didn’t have the solid ideas, and while the team looked good on offense when Dos Santos was on the field, the changes didn’t help with an Ibarguen that really didn’t spark the offense at all. Players who have struggled this season, like Roger Martinez, didn’t step up and it doesn’t look good for America in Monterrey on Sunday. Meanwhile, if Tigres step up at home again, it should be good enough to qualify to the semifinals.