América escaped “El Volcán” with a 1-1 draw but the Aguilas might lament missed opportunities against the defending champs.
On the other hand, Tigres will be relieved that, after a shaky performance at home in the first leg of the Liga MX Finals, they won't be trailing when the series resumes Sunday at Estadio Azteca.
Top-seeded América outplayed Tigres in the first half but could not get any of its seven shots on net. Julián Quiñones, Diego Valdés and Álvaro Fidalgo exploited a skittish Tigres defense to create several opportunities but to no avail.
The home crowd fell silent 6 minutes into the second half when Aguilas skipper Henry Martín converted a penalty. But the 42,000+ soon regained their voice, keeping up a raucous din for the final 30 minutes.
Tigres substitution pays off
Ten minutes after coming on, Ozziel Herrera powered home a header from just outside the 6-yard box, meeting a Sebastián Córdova corner kick at the near post.
But the equalizer did not provide any momentum “los felinos” and they were soon back on their collective heels, trying to hang onto the tie.
América right back Miguel Layún delivered a slew of dangerous crosses, while Quiñones and Fidalgo continued to probe weak links, and there were quite a few, especially down the flanks.
The Aguilas ripped apart the Tigres defense on several occasions, getting into the box with constant movement and rapid passing in tight spaces
Fullbacks Jesús Angulo and Javier Aquino had sub-par games and the team was uncharacteristically erratic with clearance passes. Angulo was responsible for the penalty thanks to a reckless challenge off a deflected corner kick. The defender swung his left foot without noticing Quiñones had swooped in to win possession.
Up front, the champs were equally sloppy. Winger Diego Lainez and midfielder Córdova – last season’s playoff MVP – were kept in check (Layún turned Lainez into a non-factor) and Tigres made a game-long habit of poor first touches that often turned into fast breaks in the other direction.
The hosts seemed tentative and lacked solutions in the Aguilas half. Tigres were unable to make deliveries to striker André-Pierre Gignac who was made uncomfortable by close marking from both Igor Lichnovsky and Sebastián Cáceres.
If the champs are to retain their title, they'll need to be more efficient and more decisive with the ball at their feet. They'll also need to be more disciplined on defense, because América showed how dangerous it can be on the counter. Tigres were lucky the Aguilas fumbled the chances they created.