America refuses to lose, battles host Tigres to draw

Tigres waste dominant first-half performance, settle for draw at home vs short-handed America.

A beat-up America team stole into Estadio Universitario and came home with a well-earned draw against the Tigres as Sebastián Córdova blasted home the equalizer in minute 61. The Tigres eliminated the Aguilas from the Leagues Cup on Tuesday.

The host Tigres grabbed control of the contest early in the first half, moving the ball from side-to-side and creating space down the flanks, but they too often failed to make clean entry passes. America goalie Memo Ochoa – making his first start for the Aguilas since leaving for Europe eight years ago – was under siege during the first 45 minutes.

Luis Quiñónes got the Tigres on the scoreboard in minute 26, but several scoring chances were left wanting. Then, just moments after Tigres forward Enner Valencia squandered an opportunity to double the lead, America knotted the score. The Aguilas scratched and clawed the rest of the way, earning a handful of yellow cards with aggressive tackling to shut down any promising Tigres attacks.

America coach Miguel Herrera was once again forced to juggle his line-up to make up for his team’s growing injury list. Midfielders Nicolás Benedetti and Gio dos Santos were not fit after picking up knocks last weekend, but Fernando González performance admirably in midfield alongside Guido Rodríguez who was lucky not to see a red card after a nasty tackle from behind on Rafa Carioca.

The Tigres took the lead with a quick strike. Valencia chased down a perfect lead pass into the right corner but his centering pass was blocked and popped into the air into the middle of the box. Aguilas right back Paul Aguilar headed it clear but right to Guido Pizarro who filtered a pass to the left flank where Quiñones juked two defenders then let fly with a left-footed blast. The ball appeared to skim off a defender but zipped past Ochoa, clanged off the far post and hit the net just inside the near post.

America ties Tigres

Tigres winger Luis Quiñones rips a shot from 25 meters that clanged off the crossbar. (Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Minutes later, Quiñones worked himself free on a fast break and ripped a shot from 28 meters that smacked off the underside of the crossbar and back out into play. Twice, the Tigres just missed scoring off headers from corner kicks. Hugo Ayala sent one just past the right post early on and Valencia bounced one just outside the left post just after the half-hour mark.

The soggy turf caused footing problems for both teams but it may have contributed to the hamstring injury suffered by Aguilas forward Andrés Ibarguen. The Colombian sped past two Tigres defenders on a fast break before pulling up lame, clutching the back of his right leg.

The Tigres enjoyed even more possession in the second half, but seemed more passive, perhaps intent on protecting the lead. That strategy failed them just after the hour mark.

Tigres America

The Tigres took the lead in the first half-hour but wasted numerous scoring opportunities thereafter. (Photo by JULIO CESAR AGUILAR/AFP/Getty Images)

America’s Renato Ibarra was stripped of the ball deep in the Tigres’ zone, but defender Carlos Salcedo unwisely booted a 50-50 ball upfield despite having time to look for an open teammate. Aguilar headed the ball back toward the Tigres box where Roger Martínez had room to press forward. He neatly cut back a pass to the onrushing Córdova and left-footed a bullet past Nahuel Guzmán from 15 meters.

After that, the Aguilas sat back in a prevent defense which included plenty of “professional fouls.” The Tigres failed to get a shot on goal during the entire second half and they’ll feel they let points get away from them.

America – the league’s lone undefeated team – is in second place with 14 points, just 1 point behind Santos. The Tigres moved into 4th place with 11 points.

Cruz Azul 1, Puebla 1

The Cementeros continue to sputter on offense, losing points at home despite outplaying the Camoteros throughout the match. Cruz Azul took 23 shots, but only got 3 on net, too often going one-on-one or taking ill-advised shots.

America ties Tigres

Omar Fernandez is congratulated by Puebla teammates after scoring the equalizer against Cruz Azul in Estadio Azteca. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images)

Cruz Azul had plenty of possession in their offensive third, but their crossing attempts were pitiful and their forwards did a lousy job of presenting for passes. The Cementeros were caught napping in minute 74 when Puebla executed a picture-perfect fast break, beat an offside trap because fullback José Madueña made a mental error on the back side.

Cruz Azul nearly lost the game when a late penalty was awarded, but goalie Jesús Corona made a lunging save to preserve the draw. The Cementeros are now 2-3-1 and have scored only 7 goals in 6 matches. Puebla earned the tie for interim coach Octavio Becerril as new coach Juan Reynoso was just hired Friday to replace José Luis Sánchez Solá.

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Pachuca 3, Atlas 1

The Tuzos won their second straight game after a 0-1-3 start to the season as Jorge Hernández scored for the second week in a row. Defender Oscar Murillo opened the scoring with a header in minute 30 and “Burrito” Hernández doubled the lead just before halftime.

Gustavo Cabral scored into his own net in minute 70 to narrow the lead to 2-1, but Víctor Dávila restored the Tuzos’ 2-goal lead just 3 minutes later.