Tigres came through with a big victory after defeating Pumas by a 1-0 score in the first leg of the semifinal. It was a very even match that was changed after a red card left Pumas with 10 players. Tigres seem to be almost through to the final as they head home with Pumas not only having to defeat them away, but needing to do so by two goals in a stadium where Pumas have struggled recently.
The match started with Pumas coming out with the same 11 from their last match on Sunday against Chivas. Without the injured Andre Pierre Gignac, Tigres came out with a more defensive lineup with Nicolas Ibañez taking the place of the injured striker. Pumas were the first offenders of the game with a couple dangerous approaches. Tigres respondedn with a longball that was deflected way outside the area by Pumas’ goalkeeper, Julio Gonzalez, and the ball fell to Sebastian Cordova, but his lob toward the empty net went well wide. On a corner kick, Jesus Rivas looked to have injured himself and needed medical attention. He would have to leave the match and Pablo Bennevendo was subbed in for him.
A cross into the area was volleyed in the air by Ibañez and the shot hit the post in the best chance of the match to that point. Pumas answered and Salvio’ shot was well saved by Tigres’ goalkeeper, Nahuel Guzman. Ibañez would get the ball in the area before a late scramble from Gonzalez allowed him to get the ball and bounce it off his feet, and although Ibañez was dropped during the play, no PK was given. The teams continued exchanging chances to no avail. The halftime whistle blew in a very even match where Pumas had more of the possession but Tigres had the more dangerous opportunities.
The second half started with Pumas subbing out Robert Ergas for Gustavo del Prete. Guzman would try to clear a ball, but bounced it off Fernandez and allowed Pumas a great chance as the ball fell into the path of Salvio, but instead of trying to lob the ball into the empty net, he went towards the area and tried to get past a defender before shooting and lost the ball without even getting off a shot. Tigres then subbed out Juan Pablo Vigon for Ozziel Herrera. Santiago Trigos made a very harsh tackle on Rafael Carioca, in what was a reckless play. He was booked originally, but replays showed it should have been a red card. The ref went to VAR and correctly changed the decision. It left Pumas with 10 players.
With the man advantage, Tigres decided to go on the offense. Off a corner kick, the ball was played outside the area where Jesus Angulo got off a great left-footed shot that got past Gonzalez to give Tigres the 1-0 lead. It was a great shot from Angulo, although Gonzalez should have done better after he reached the ball, but couldn’t clear it with his punch. Pumas tried to respond, but being down a player really hampered them as they needed to be defensive and not get caught on a counter attack. They kept trying, but couldn’t break through. Off a throw in by Monroy, the ball was headed into the area where Molina would get off a great bicycle kick that Guzman made a great save on. It would be the last chance as Tigres held on to secure the key victory.
Tigres took a huge leap towards the final after grabbing an away win in the first leg. While nothing as big as America getting a 5-0 victory in their first leg against Atletico San Luis, it was still a victory that has them in prime position as Pumas now must defeat them by two goals. It was a very even match, but Santiago Trigos getting a red card changed a lot as Pumas being the inferior lineup were really hampered by going down to 10 players. Tigres could have finished things, although they went very defensive from the start, not only from being the away team, but missing injured striker Andre Pierre Gignac. Pumas will have to give a magical performance and also need some luck (Tigres going down to 10 players might be one of those situations) to come back in a stadium where they haven’t won since 2014. It appears the expected América vs Tigres final is a step away from becoming official.