To be honest, we wouldn’t be surprised if reigning CONCAChampions winner Club América had already booked half of its team’s flights to Japan after last night’s 2-0 first-leg final victory over Tigres.
Las Águilas are desperate for glitz and glamour in their centennial year, after all, and what better way to put the icing on their illustrious cake than with a lil’ FIFA Club World Cup redemption?
Nacho Ambriz’s side got it done last night, battling it out with disciplined defense despite wildly lopsided offensive statistics in favor of Los Felinos (this coupled with the absence of influential stars like Darwin Quintero and Paul Aguilar). The home side managed a 71–29 percent possession advantage and a 15(4)–9(2) edge in shots (slash shots on goal), but it simply wasn’t enough to break through América’s hard-nosed defense.
Tigres attacker Juninho had a great look off a free kick in the 24th minute – a decent attempt to get things going – before Javier Aquino produced his squad’s clearest opportunity of the night, a missed chance in on goal in the 32nd. His reaction:
Tuca Ferretti’s face pretty much sums it up:
After a scoreless first half, América’s Darío Benedetto opened the mark in the 49th in sublime, spectacular fashion. Rubens Sambueza found Oribe Peralta in the box, who set up a beautiful back-heel to Osvaldo Martínez, who took it one step further with an outrageous outside of the foot chip in for the assist. The stuff of dreams, fam.
América could have (and should have) gone up by two less than 10 minutes later, but Andrés Andrade’s goal was called offsides, an extremely poor decision from the árbitro.
Ambriz put his gameplan on a platter when he chose in favor of extra defensive coverage in the form of Erik Pimentel as a sub for Benedetto. And you know what, it’s a gameplan that worked to perfection; Tigres completed 446 passes (446!) to América’s 140, but 90 minutes came and went without a successful strike on net.
In the 92nd, Martínez doubled his side’s scoreline with a golazo from distance. A metaphorical slap in the face that says, “Yes, thank you, I will take that 2-0 lead back to the Azteca.”
The crash and burn that was América vs. Guangzhou Evergrande in the Club World Cup quarterfinals last time around is still fresh on all of our minds, but Wednesday’s second leg is the only thing standing between the D.F. team and a second shot.
This should go without saying, but don’t count Tigres out just yet.