Demonstrating resolve and grit, the Tigres defeated Monterrey 1-0 to advance to the Clausura 2019 Final.
Guido Pizarro endured a ghastly collision to head home in minute 42 and Nahuel Guzmán made the goal stand up as the Tigres edged past crosstown rivals Monterrey to advance to the Liga MX Final.
Pizarro raced on to a cross from Edu Vargas and clashed heads with Monterrey’s Jesús Gallardo as he snapped the ball past Marcelo Barovero at the back post. Pizarro took the brunt of the collision with the side of his head (photo above) and was down on the ground for several minutes as medical personnel were waved onto the field frantically. The Tigres captain surprisingly finished out the half, but was replaced during halftime.
The Tigres knew the 1-1 aggregate scoreline would be enough to see them through to the final, but Monterrey pressed forward in search of the winner, swarming Guzmán’s area and launching 12 second-half shots. The 33-year-old Argentine keeper was brilliant, making five second half saves, two of which were spectacular.
The two-game series was a war of attrition, with Saturday’s second leg played in 90+-degree weather. The Tigres were playing without left back Jesús Dueñas who was still under observation after suffering a brain contusion in the first leg (the result of a head clash with Dorlan Pabón). Pizarro was lost for the final 45 minutes (and perhaps longer, from the looks of the video replays) and defender Carlos Salcedo was forced off with a knee injury in minute 70.
For Monterrey, Gallardo was replaced in minute 52, while goalie Barovero left in minute 55 after appearing to suffer an Achilles injury.
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Both teams were completely drained by game’s end, as much due to the heat as to the intensity with which they played, particularly the final 30 minutes. Monterrey spent most of that half hour flowing forward into its attacking zone as the Tigres scrambled and hustled to cut off looks at goal.
Guzmán stopped a shot by Monterrey sub Avilés Hurtado in minute 62, then made a lunging save off a Stefan Medina shot from 18 meters in minute 69 that seemed ticketed for the back of the net. Two minutes later, Guzmán came charging off his line to snuff a shot attempt by Rodolfo Pizarro who had gotten free inside the penalty spot.
Just minutes later, Vargas made a steal at the midfield stripe then split two Monterrey defenders only to watch substitute goalie Luis Cárdenas make a splendid sliding save to deny the Tigres a sure goal.
Two minutes before Guido Pizarro’s goal, Monterrey captain Dorlan Pabón pinged the right post with a long shot on a quick counter after André-Pierre Gignac had been dispossessed near midfield. Rayados striker Rogelio Funes Mori actually deflected the ball into the net in minute 77, but the goal was correctly ruled out for offside.
With the win, the Tigres avenged their loss to the Rayados in the Concacaf Champions League Final last month and remain in the hunt for their seventh league title. Twice the Tigres were left to lament unrewarded penalty claims as ref Marco Antonio Ortiz consulted the Video Assistant Replay before waving off the both petitions.
The No. 2 seeded Tigres now await the winner of the León-América series, while coach Tuca Ferretti worries about his growing injury list.