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Cruz Azul give Tigres a harsh “Welcome Back” in their return to Liga MX

Cruz Azul got a key victory as they defeat Tigres away 2-0.

Tigres UANL v Cruz Azul - Torneo Guard1anes 2021 Liga MX Photo by Alfredo Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images

Tigres fell at home in their first match after returning from the FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar when they lost 2-0 against Cruz Azul on Wednesday. Tigres had most of the possession, but faced a Cruz Azul team that managed the game well after taking an early lead. Tigres looked out of sync, especially on offense, and paid dearly for it. Cruz Azul now looks as one of the candidates for the title and will hope to build on this result when they go back home to face Toluca, another team off to a great start to their season. Tigres will stay in Monterrey where they will host Tijuana on Sunday.

The first half started and right away Cruz Azul had a great opportunity when Jonathan Rodriguez got into the area on a one-on-one against goalkeeper Nahuel Guzman, getting off a shot that forced Guzman to make a great save. The dangerous chance was a sign of things to come, and in the fifth minute a great cross from Orbelin Pineda found Luis Romo who headed it past Guzman for the 1-0 lead. Tigres almost responded immediately, with Andre-Pierre Gignac getting into the area and getting off a right footed shot that forced Cruz Azul’s keeper Jesus Corona to make a save. Cruz Azul came close again with a long range shot by Pineda that just went wide. Tigres tried to get back into the game, but Cruz Azul was having the better of the play in the game. Tigres had a good opportunity when off a free kick, Gignac’s shot forced Corona to make a save. Javier Aquino got to the rebound, but his shot went just wide. Gignac would get another chance when he got the ball in the area, taking a shot that forced Corona to make another save. Tigres had another chance, this time with Carlos Gonzalez getting into the area, and his shot was saved by Corona. Although Tigres had at times been the better team, the score remained in favor of Cruz Azul at halftime.

The second half started with Tigres subbing out Jesus Dueñas for Nicolas “El Diente” Lopez. Lopez would come in and get a shot that forced Corona to make save a minute into the half. Like in the first half, Tigres continued to attack while Cruz Azul sat back and waited for counter attacks. Tigres had their best chance when Gignac lowered the ball in the area for Gonzalez to get to the ball and get a left footed shot from close range, forcing Corona to make a great save. To answer back Cruz Azul subbed out Roberto Alvarado and Yoshimar Yotun for Walter Montoya and Pablo Aguilar. There was a controversy when it looked like Lopez got brought down by Jose Martinez in what should have been a red card as the last man, but the ref instead called a foul on Lopez. Tigres wasted a chance after a cross into the area was failed to be headed by Gignac, and then Gonzalez failed to get to it too. Cruz Azul then would sub out Jose Martinez and Adrian Aldrete for Pol Fernandez and Ignacio Rivero. Tigres would sub out Luis Quiñones for Raymundo Fulgencio. Cruz Azul made their final move by subbing out Orbelin Pineda for Bryan Angulo. Tigres had a counter attack that finished with a shot by Fulgencio that went wide. A cross into the area found Gonzalez, but he headed it wide. Tigres started to get desperate and with that, their level of play suffered. In extra time off a counter, Pol Fernandez made a great play and from outside the area, getting off a great left footed shot past Guzman for the 2-0 lead. Cruz Azul had done a great job of managing the result, and Tigres got a hard reality check in their return to Mexico.

It was a harsh reality check for Tigres in their return to Mexico. After getting the best ever participation from a Concacaf team in the Club World Cup by finishing in second place, they weren’t able to gel against Cruz Azul. Still although it’s a bad result, they had possession and just looked rusty, something that might be explained because of all the travel. Some of their players had struggles that might be explained by it, especially Carlos Gonzalez. Cruz Azul meanwhile played well and were able to mange the game, meaning that the team is improving under Coach Juan Reynoso. After a slow start, Cruz Azul seems to be clicking and getting results, but the team will need to prove things in the Liguilla. They will have a tough test at home against Toluca but if they get the victory, it would be another boost to their season. Tigres meanwhile will need to improve against Tijuana although having another home game will probably be very beneficial for them.