Tigres Down Leon In CONCACAF Champions League Semi


Tigres Down Leon In CONCACAF Champions League Semi

Tigres survived an early León onslaught and came away with a 2-1 win in the first leg of their Concacaf Champions League semifinal match Tuesday night.

Víctor Dávila scored just 6 minutes into the match at “El Volcán” and dominated the first half-hour of the contest, but the Esmeraldas were denied three times by Tigres goalie Nahuel Guzmán. The visitors would come to regret their bad luck.

Tigres settled down by controlling possession and limiting León’s moves through midfield. At the same time, winger Luis Quiñones began to wreak havoc with his speed and grit.

Just before halftime, the peripatetic Quiñones supplied Sebastián Córdova for the equalizer then raced onto a lose ball inside the box and banged home the go-ahead goal, sending León trudging to the locker room wondering what hit them.

In addition to Quiñones’ heroics, Guzmán came up with three additional saves allowing the home team to play with the lead for the final 45 minutes and they did so with aplomb.

Although Tigres conceded more possession to León in the second half, they were much more dangerous. Unfortunately, the usually reliable André-Pierre Gignac could not find the net.

The fabulous French striker sprayed shots and headers in the first half, then in the second half Gignac scuffed a few sitters including a glorious chance to extend the lead in minute 49.

Tigres put together a slick fast break from a León corner kick and after two Esmeraldas collided inside their box, Fernando Gorriarán fed a wide open Gignac who pumped a shot right at Rodolfo Cota from 13 meters.

León pressed forward looking for the equalizer but created few opportunities (“La Fiera” had just 1 shot on goal in the second half) and left themselves vulnerable to Tigres counterattacks. Fortunately for the Esmeraldas, Cota was up to the task, coming up with 6 big saves (8 overall) to keep the game close.

Before the return leg in León next Wednesday, the two Liga MX clubs will meet again in their Clausura 2023 season finale with both teams seeking to improve their playoff seeding.

Whereas León has an outside chance at landing a Top 4 seed and a first-round playoff bye, a Tigres victory would allow the northern giants to climb past the Esmeraldas into 5th or 6th place, assuring a home game in the wildcard round.

The other Concacaf Champions League semifinal features an MLS finals rematch as LAFC faces Philadelphia Union. The first leg of their series takes place in Philadelphia on Wednesday with the return match set for Los Angeles on May 2.

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