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2019 Liga MX Clausura Liguilla match recap: Tijuana 1, León 3

Xolos take a tough result against rivals León, losing the first leg 3-1 at Estadio Caliente.

Tijuana v Leon - Playoffs Torneo Clausura 2019 Liga MX Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images

Club Tijuana came into the match with the confidence of a team that had clawed its way into the Liguilla. León came in with a bit of a chip on their shoulder, with a few pundits and bloggers (this one included) predicting an early exit for the team that had won 12 straight in league play at one point.

Big mistake.

León was able to impose their will on the game once they had a lead, and Xolos wound up chasing the game as La Fiera are up 3-1 after the first leg of the 2019 Clausura Quarterfinal.

Xolos started out on the front foot as in the first minute Jesús Angulo hit a half-volley from the top of the box that goalkeeper Rodolfo Cota was able to stop. Angulo made a great run in the seventh minute on a ball that was played in that Cota was able to just beat him to, sparking Xolos to apply great pressure.

In the eighth minute, Julián Velázquez would flick on a ball that Luis Fuentes was able to poke past Cota but Andrés Mosquera was able to clear the ball off of the line. Play then bogged down a bit, punctuated by poor passing and fouls committed by both sides.

In the 28th minute, Luis “Chapo” Montes hit a blistering shot with pace from just outside of the box that whistled just over the crossbar. In the 31st minute, León would hit Xolos on the counter. William Tesillo got forward, passed the ball to Juan Macías, and the 19 year old poked the ball past Gibran Lajud to give the visitors the lead.

Tijuana would remain committed to keeping players back on defense with a look to counter. When Xolos were able to get forward, they would go into a full press when possession was lost. Both teams committed plenty of fouls - both called and not.

Shortly after the start of the second half, León’s Ramiro González gave possession away cheaply as Miller Bolaños intercepted the ball. “Killer” passed it in to Ariel Nahuelpán, Nahuelpán calmly slotted it over to Gustavo Bou, and Bou poked the ball home past Cota to draw the sides level.

With the goal, Tijuana found life and the crowd came alive. Bolaños would play Nahuelpán in minutes late but Nahuelpán’s shot was well defended.

In the 65th minute, disaster struck for Xolos when off of a corner kick Diego Braghieri attempted to head the ball out of bounds but instead caught Lajud going the wrong way and the ball went into the back of the net.

León would add another in the 70th minute when Rubens Sambueza would find himself in space about 20 yards out and hit a blast into the top of the net.

León would then put on a show of ball possession, running Xolos ragged as they tried to chase down the ball. Xolos would concede corner after corner, scrambling to defend. In the 84th minute Yairo Moreno would clatter one off of the crossbar past an absolutely exhausted Xolos defense. Gibran Lajud would make back-to-back saves in the 87th minute on Yairo Moreno and Vinicio Angulo.

León’s ability to retain possession and force Xolos off of the ball was the difference in the match, and the sides will head to Guanjuato with León carrying a 3-1 lead with two away goals.

Tijuana: Gibran Lajud; Luis Fuentes, Diego Braghieri, Julián Velázquez, Luis Martínez (Luis Chávez, 73’); Diego Rodríguez, Ignacio Rivero; Jesús Angulo (Fabián Castillo, 67’), Miller Bolaños, Gustavo Bou; Ariel Nahuelpán

León: Rodolfo Cota; William Tesillo, Andrés Mosquera, Fernando Navarro, Ramiro González; Jean Menenses, Luis Montes, José Rodríguez, Ángel Mena (Yairo Moreno, 79’); Juan Macías (Vinicio Angulo, 86’), Joel Campbell (Rubens Sambueza, 66’)

Scoring: Tijuana - Gustavo Bou (46’), Diego Braghieri (Own Goal - 64’); León - Ángel Mena (31’). Rubens Sambueza (69’)

Disciplinary: Tijuana - Gustavo Bou (Yellow - 89’); León - Ángel Mena (Yellow - 38’), William Tesillo (Yellow - 48’)