Tigres were able to hold a spirited Pumas to a 1-1 tie that gave them the ticket to the Apertura 2023 final. They took advantage of their victory in the first leg and came back after trailing to get the tie that won them the series on aggregate. Siboldi and company will now face superlider America in the final where they will host the away game on Thursday before closing out the season in Mexico City on Sunday.
The match started with injured Andre Pierre Gignac available to play off the bench. A bad crash between Diego Lainez and Jesus Molina got things going with both players injured and requiring medical attention. Molina took the worst part, to the point he started to sob and had to be carted off in what looks to be a bad injury. Rodrigo Lopez was subbed in for him. Cesar Huerta then crossed in a ball that was cleared, but Huerta asked for a PK. Replays showed Javier Aquino handled the ball, and after going to VAR, the ref awarded the PK to the visitors.
Huerta stepped up to take it, but he was unsuccessful as his attempt was blocked by Nahuel Guzman. In the ensuing corner kick though, the ball was cleared into the path of Pablo Bennevendo, who crossed it into the area where Gabriel Fernandez rose to head from close range past Guzman and into the net to give Pumas the surprising 1-0 lead. It was a great strike that “saved” Huerta and had Pumas one goal from going through to the final.
In response, Sebastian Cordova made a great play as he lobbed the ball over Adrian Aldrete and got past him to send a cross into the area, where it would go into the path of Juan Pablo Vigon, who fired off a strong right-footed shot in the area that got past Julio Gonzalez and into the net for the 1-1 tie. Pumas didn’t keep the lead for long and Tigres once again had breathing room.
After getting a good pass in the area, Fernando Gorriaran got off a left-footed shot that was deflected by Gonzalez and hit the post as Tigres came close to getting the go ahead goal. Nicolas Ibañez then got his chance in the area, but Lisandro Magallan made a game-saving slide to block the shot. After a great move by Lopez, his cross reached Gustavo del Prete, who got the ball in the area into the path of Eduardo Salvio, but the ball was cleared off his feet by a combination of Guzman and defender Samir. After a combination play, the ball fell to Salvio, whose attempt went just inches wide. It was the best chance for Pumas after the goal and the last one of the half as the whistle blew and Tigres took the tie that gave them the ticket to the final into the dressing room.
Both teams came out with same players to start the second half. Neither team found a way to get clear chances in the first part of the half. Both made moves to try and shake things up, as Pumas subbed out Eduardo Salvio and Adrian Aldrete for Juan Ignacio Dinenno and Robert Ergas. Tigres responded by subbing out Juan Pablo Vigon for Ozziel Herrera. Off a corner kick, a cross was cleared by Pumas’ defense just before Ibañez could get a free header. After losing the ball, Pablo Bennevendo committed a reckless tackle from behind on Lainez, and got a straight red card. Replays showed it could have been a yellow card offense, but the call stood and Pumas were down to 10 players once again, just like the first leg.
It appeared this would kill the match and Pumas’ hopes, as going down a player is too big a handicap against Tigres. Siboldi subbed out Diego Lainez and Nicolas Ibañez for Raymundo Fulgencio and the first appearance of Andre Pierre Gignac in the series. Gignac looked to have a 1 vs 1, but he lobbed the ball over the goal and was also called offside. The match played out from there and ended with the 1-1 tie, allowing Tigres to move on.
Tigres got a deserved win in a series where they were the better side. Although Pumas fought hard and were always close, Tigres did enough to convincingly get the result. Pumas weren’t helped, especially in first leg, by going down in both matches to 10 players because of red cards to two of their young players. Antonio Mohamed must still be proud of the result, but Pumas are still too short a squad to be a true contender. That isn’t a problem at all for Tigres, who will be slight underdogs, even as current champions. América are just that favored coming into the series, especially after a season where they only lost twice. The final will have the first leg on Thursday in Monterrey and will close out on Sunday in the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.