Tigres made a great start to the Clausura 2021 by getting a victory at home against Leon by a score of 2-0. It was a battle between Leon, the current Liga MX champion and Tigres, the current Concacaf Champions League champions. Leon came into the game without Angel Mena, Fernando Navarro, and Yairo Moreno to the match and with players like Joel Campbell, Jean Meneses, and Luis Montes in the bench, either because of injury or rest and they suffered for it. They gave an overall lackluster performance while Tigres, who was the team who had played a competitive game more recently, came out with their best squad. Tigres will now travel to Torreon for a tough match against Santos while Leon returns home to face their little brother Pachuca.
The first half of the clash of current champions started and Leon came in with a B squad, missing a lot of players who were given rest or were out because of COVID-19. Meanwhile in his debut with Tigres, Carlos Gonzalez had the first opportunity of the game when he lowered the ball in the area, but his shot was blocked. Minutes later it was Andre-Pierre Gignac who got a shot at goal, but it was easily saved by Leon goalkeeper Rodolfo Cota. Tigres had their best chance when Filberto Fulgencio got off a shot that Cota blocked, but ended up only deflecting the shot into the right post. Later Gignac came close with a long range shot that just went wide. Tigres was in full control, and the current Liga MX champions didn’t even threaten for the first 20 minutes. Tigres failed to score and as the game continued, Leon started evening the game out. Tigres would once again had the other chance when Jesus Dueñas rose alone in the area, but did a bad job heading a cross and it went well wide. Then after winning a free kick, Andre Pierre Gignac took a right footed shot that looked to be deflected past Cota for the 1-0. Tigres had the deserved lead and it looked like it would only be the start of scoring for them.
The second half reacted by Leon subbing out Gil Buron and Ruben Gonzalez for Jean Meneses and Luis Montes, two regular starters. Still Tigres had the first great opportunity when Luis Rodriguez got to a ball and sent a cross into the area, but Gignac’s shot went well wide. Tigres came close again off a corner kick when Hugo Ayala headed a ball that almost got deflected into the net. Leon subbed out Nicolas Sosa (who gave another subpar performance) and Jesus Godinez for Emmanuel Gigliotti and Joel Campbell. Tigres had an incredible opportunity when after a great run by Rodriguez, he found Carlos Gonzalez who got a good shot past Cota but Osvaldo Rodriguez made an incredible save by clearing the ball with a backheel clearance. Carlos Gonzalez would have his revenge however when Rafael Carioca sent a great cross that found Gonzalez, who in turn headed the ball. Rodolfo Cota was able to make a stop but the rebound fell to Gonzalez, who connected with a left footed shot that went past Cota for the 2-0 lead.
Leon tried to answer back and played offensive football for the first time in the game. Tigres subbed out Luis Quiñones for Julian Quiñones. Gonzalez came close again when after a great cross by Gignac, he rose to head the ball but Cota got to his header and deflected it. Unfortunately for him, the ref didn’t get a good view and didn’t give the corner kick. Leon subbed out Osvaldo Rodriguez for Stiven Barreiro, but it was far too little and far too late and the match ended with Tigre picking up all three points.
It was a solid victory for Tigres, who although was the team with the most recent activity (playing the Concacaf Champions League final on December 22nd) they looked crisp. Although they faced a weakened Leon squad, they were the better team all game and should have scored more goals. Future games will show if they will suffer physically from their lack of rest ,but right now, they had a good first test. Meanwhile Leon gave a lackluster performance although it was expected with their numerous absences. It looks like Leon will suffer the first game as they seemed to not be as prepared physically for the start of the tournament but should they click at the right time, they should be one of the favorites for the Liga MX title.