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Tigres grab important win away to Cruz Azul in first leg of Quarterfinals

Tigres held on for a 1-0 win even after a controversial decision left them with 10 players.

Cruz Azul v Tigres UANL - Playoffs Torneo Grita Mexico C22 Liga MX Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images

Tigres was able to get a victory over Cruz Azul after a controversial match in which they went down to ten players but got the 1-0 win. Tigres was able to overcome a bad job from referee Fernando Hernandez against a Cruz Azul side that once again looked without offensive ideas. Cruz Azul will need to get a victory against Tigres by more than one goal, which means Tigres sits in a prime position to get a ticket to the semifinals.

The first half started with both teams suffering somewhat from injuries. Cruz Azul still didn’t have injured goalkeeper Jesus Corona available, so Sebastian Jurado kept his place as a starter. Tigres meanwhile had to make do without Florian Thauvin, who was out injured for the match. The first minutes were very even, with some physical clashes that ended with Ivan Morales getting a yellow card. A terrible mistake from Julio Cesar Dominguez left the ball for Andre-Pierre Gignac, who got into the area and got off a shot that forced Jurado to make a great save. The play continued, and Rafael Carioca got off a long range shot that Jurado also saved, but then Juan Pablo Vigon crashed into his head with his kneecap. Jurado looked to almost have fainted but incredibly was left in the game with no help from the terrible concussion protocols in Liga MX. Luis Quiñones then got a right footed shot that went just wide. A free kick from Tigres came close to going in when Gignac’s cross just went wide after no Tigres or Cruz Azul player contacted the cross. Then in an incredible blooper, Jesus Dueñas sent a very weak cross that Adrian Aldrete went to try to clear and incredibly whiffed on it and took out Jurado, who watched as the ball went into the net for the 1-0 lead. Aldrete was in a good position to clear the ball and went to it with his natural left foot, and yet made a terrible mistake that gave Tigres the deserved lead. Tigres was able to take the lead to halftime against a Cruz Azul team that didn’t even have a single shot on goal in the first half.

The second half started with Cruz Azul subbing out Ivan Morales and Rafael Baca for Santiago Gimenez and Angel Romero. There was a controversial play when it looked like Nicolas Lopez made a bad foul on Luis Abram after he missed the ball and kicked him in the face, that got him a yellow card. As the referee went to VAR to check on the play, Coach Miguel Herrera protested which caused the ref to red card him. The ref then decided to give a red card to Lopez. Almost immediately Cruz Azul reacted with two volleys from Romero that forced Tigres’ goalkeeper Nahuel Guzman to make two great saves. In the next play Cristian Tabo made the same play against Vigon, and yet the ref didn’t make the same call and left it to a yellow card in a terrible call from a terrible referee. Cruz Azul kept dominating the match taking advantage of them having one more player on the field. Tigres looked like they would sub out Luis Quiñones, but decided to change their minds, wasting a lot of time doing it. Tigres would finally sub out Quiñones and Jesus Dueñas for Igor Lichnovsky and Luis Rodriguez. Cruz Azul looked to get close when a cross into the area almost got deflected in but it went wide. Tigres subbed out Andre-Pierre Gignac for Carlos Gonzalez, while Cruz Azul subbed out Christian Tabo for Rodrigo Huescas. A cross into the area was headed by Gimenez, but the ball went wide. Romero had a good shot that went just wide. Tigres then subbed out Javier Aquino for Filberto Fulgencio. Cruz Azul kept pushing for that final goal with numerous crosses into the area, but like in many games no clear idea on how to score. In the end Tigres held on and got the important win.

Tigres got a great victory that virtually have them qualified to the next round. With their better position on the table, that gives them the ticket if they tie in the aggregate, It also means Cruz Azul will need to win by two or more goals in Monterrey. Worse yet, the fact they had a player advantage and failed to score means they have their work cut out for them as they continue to show a lack of offensive ideas. Tigres will have to be without their coach and without Lopez for the match, but the fact that Cruz Azul is needing the win means they might have a great situation of trying to counter at home and they have the better offensive weapons in the series. It looks like they took a big step, and it would be a huge upset for anything but another Tigres win on Sunday.