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Match recap: Tigres UANL 3, Club Tijuana 2

A brace for the tooth, as El Diente López gets two goals to propel Tigres to a 3-2 win over Xolos.

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

Tigres must have been listening. As outlets and columnists (me included) started to openly wonder if the Club World Cup was their best last stand before the inevitable decline, they made a statement against a team that had the best defense in the league. Tigres were perfect through most of their game, with two late goals spoiling what was an otherwise masterful performance.

It wouldn’t be long before Tigres were on the board. In the second minute, Luis Quiñones made a run down the right flank, cut inside and curled a shot inside of the far post that froze Jonathan Orozco.

Tigres wasn’t about to rest on their laurels. In the fifth minute Chaka made a run down the right again, this time hitting a cutback pass to André-Pierre Gignac. Defended well, Gignac chipped the ball up and then attempted a chilena that Orozco was fortunately well positioned to stop.

In the ninth minute, referee Fernando Hernández showed Luis Quiñones a yellow card. However when he went to VAR, it appeared that Junior Sornoza had committed the foul on Quiñones and Hernández showed Sornoza the card. Sornoza then dug himself into a deeper hole by turning the ball over at midfield to Luis Quiñones, who initiated a break downfield with Nicolás “El Diente” López on his left and Gignac on his right. He opted for El Diente who hit a shot in stride past a flailing Orozco to make it 2-0 for Tigres.

Xolos didn’t give up and tried to regain some momentum. In the 36th they were able to break down field but a fantastic sliding tackle by Francisco Meza broke up the two-on-one rush and negated the threat. In the 39th Tigres had a rush on goal but Gignac’s shot was blocked and a rush back the other way ended with Sornoza curling a shot that went just on the outside of the far post.

After the half Pablo Guede removed Junior Sornoza for Fabián Castillo. Sornoza had a poor game and Castillo’s offensive abilities were sorely needed being down two goals. It didn’t help much early on, as Tigres got the first good chance on goal when Quiñones hit a cross to Pedro Aquino, but his header missed the net. Tigres would get a third in the 52nd when Gignac made a run up the middle, dribbling past the Xolos defense and then shooting it into a defender. As fate would have it, the ball slipped out to the left to the onrushing Diente López, who again hit his shot in stride. It easily beat Orozco for his second goal of the evening to give Tigres the 3-0 lead.

To their credit, Tijuana kept fighting and looking for a goal. Instead the closer they got to Nahuel Guzmán’s net, the more their runs and passes found the shins of Tigres defenders. Often however passes were more hopeful than purposeful, going forward but to no one in particular. Fabián Castillo was finally able to test Guzmán in the 72nd, but El Patón was up to the test and made the save look easy.

Tigres almost added another in the 75th when Luis Quiñones found himself past a sprawling Orozco and staring at an empty net, but the touch to get past the goalkeeper was just too heavy and the ball rolled harmlessly over the end line. Just when it looked like “Patón” Guzmán was going to get his clean sheet, Edgar López played a nice give-and-go, hitting his shot in stride to give Tijuana a breath of hope.

Tijuana weren’t done, and in the second minute of stoppage López played a pass to Brayan Angulo, who then found David Barbona. Barbona’s shot was on target and Tijuana had drawn within one.

It wouldn’t be nearly enough however and the final whistle blew. The last three minutes of the match not withstanding, Tigres got a comfortable win and silenced some of their doubters. Tigres will head to San Luis Potosí to take on Atlético San Luis on Thursday, February 25. Tijuana meanwhile will head across Monterrey to face Rayados on Sunday, February 28.

Tigres UANL: Nahuel Guzmán; Carlos Salcedo, Francisco Meza, Diego Reyes (Jesús Dueñas, 53’), Luis Rodríguez; Guido Pizarro, Rafael Carioca; Javier Aquino, Nicolás López (Leonardo Fernández, 82’), Luis Quiñones (Julián Quiñones, 82’); André-Pierre Gignac

Club Tijuana: Jonathan Orozco; Vladimir Loroña (Jaime Gómez, 61’), Víctor Guzmán, Gonzalo Jara, Brayan Angulo; Junior Sornoza (Fabián Castillo, 45’), Esteban Pavez, David Barbona, Christian Rivera (Gerson Vázquez, 82’); Fidel Martínez (Jordi Cortizo, 61’), Mauro Manotas (Edgar López, 67’)

Scoring: Tigres UANL - Luis Quiñones (2’), Nicolás López (14’, 52’); Club Tijuana - Edgar López (89’), David Barbona (90+2’)

Disciplinary: Tigres UANL - None; Club Tijuana - Junior Sornoza (Yellow - 12’), Víctor Guzmán (Yellow - 68’)