Yesterday night, Necaxa and Tigres opened up the fourth round of the season. And at the same time, Tigres played their last match before heading over to Qatar where they will face their Club World Cup duties earned a little over a month ago after being crowned CONCACAF CL champs. In what was a rather lazy match with not many clear scoring chances, the home side dominated both ball possession as well as opportunities created, despite lack of clarity. The match ended in a 1-1 deadlock.
Both of Tuca Ferretti’s starters up front were present yesterday night in the Estadio Universitario, despite not actually dressing to play, as both André-Pierre Gignac and newly acquired Carlos González are completing their respective recoveries from injury and are both expected to be on the pitch next week for Tigres’ Club World Cup debut. In fact, the Frenchman, who sustained a hip injury a couple weeks back, was said to be fit to play last night. Ferretti was smartly saving him for Qatar. González is nursing a right leg injury.
After a few threats to no avail by the home club within the first half hour of play, the visitors were long overdue an opportunity. They finally got it in the 33rd minute of play through a corner kick. With the cross sent in and Tigres’ defenders staying tight with the attackers, Martín Barragán got in front of everyone (credit to him) and rose to meet the ball mid-flight, crossing it over to the far corner where it sweetly met the back of the net, out of the reach of an outstretched Nahuel. And that was really all offensively speaking for Necaxa. Ten minutes later, justice was made, as Luis Quiñones received a throw-in, which he promptly crossed in to the six-yard box, where a more than wide-open Carlos Salcedo met the ball with his right foot to even things up. A total defensive letdown by the Rayos.
To tell the truth, that was it for the rest of the match. Necaxa didn’t have another close play again, and Tigres, despite dominating much of the action and distributing the ball around in their usual orderly fashion, didn’t create another clear chance again. It wasn’t totally unexpected either, as the point benefitted both sides; Necaxa happily take a point on the road in Estadio Universitario, and Tigres are much more focused on resting their key players and not risking anyone, so they’ll settle for the point as well.
Next up for Necaxa, they’ll be playing hosts to Cruz Azul a week from tonight. Tigres, on the other hand, will make up their Round 5 game against FC Juárez in mid-April, as they left earlier today for Qatar in preparation to face South Korean club Ulsan Hyundai next Thursday as part of the tournament’s Second Round. If they can overcome the Asian side, they’d face the CONMEBOL representative in the Semi-Final, which will be decided tomorrow afternoon in the Copa Libertadores Final between Brazilian clubs Palmeiras and Santos.