Surprisingly enough, the final score in Estadio Akron last night didn’t reflect what actually happened on the pitch. That’s right. Through 30 minutes of action, the red-hot Chivas (winners of 5 of their last 6) had vastly dominated the San Nicolás-based club, creating 6 extremely menacing opportunities, 3 of which forced spectacular Nahuel Guzmán saves. Tigres on the other hand, were more than fortunate on their only two approaches in that time frame, and miraculously found themselves up 2-0 on the road thanks to a bad bounce on a long distance Vigón shot and bad ball control on the part of Fernando Beltrán that led to Vigón poking in the ball for his second of the night.
But the Chivas assault wasn’t over there. Nahuel was forced to make two more extremely difficult saves in the final third of the first half in order to keep the clean sheet at halftime. In total, Chivas had created 9 opportunities out of which Nahuel intervened magnificently in 5 of them. Amazing. This doesn’t take any blame away from Tigres defenders, but it just goes to show why they’re tied for the best defense in the league (only 12 goals allowed).
By the time the second half kicked off, it appeared Chivas were gassed after their efforts in the first. Tigres easily took control and had a couple of dangerous approaches until their corner kick in the 63rd minute, which upon being cleared by Olivas, found a wide open Carioca who fired a laser on the ground that Jiménez botched by trying to hold instead of deflect (which is what he should’ve done), resulting in a Samir slide that barely got the ball over the line for the 3-0.
Ah, but that wasn’t the end of this MVP performance. Nope. Nahuel had one more number left, and it came in the 78th minute, when Chivas had a dangerous free kick. Left-footed ‘Piojo’ Alvarado took the shot that was headed straight for Guzmán’s top left corner. The keeper covered the goal all the way from the other side and with his dive, somehow got his fingertips on the ball to send it just wide of the post for a corner kick.
Nine minutes later, a great combination left Thauvin open for the 4-0 dagger. In the end, Chivas did get one back just a minute and a half later, with Zaldívar lobbing the ball beautifully over Guzmán for the 4-1. But that’s the only way the Argentine keeper was going to be beaten yesterday; an absolute gem of a goal.
So, Nahuel finished the match with six spectacular and critical saves which kept Chivas off the board until the dying minutes of the match. Any of those goals that would’ve gone in earlier would’ve no doubt complicated things for Tigres in this one, especially considering their sluggish first half performance. How can a keeper be the MVP in a blowout match? This is how. Had it not been for Nahuel, this would’ve been a shootout. It’s because of him it was kept a blowout. As the famous saying goes, “offense wins games, but defense wins championships.” Well, here is your defense and one of the reasons why Tigres have won so many titles in recent years. Simply sublime performance from Nahuel Guzmán yesterday night.