Tigres and Chivas with advantages in Liga MX semifinals

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Photo Credit: Francisco Vega / Tijuana Xolos

By: Jonny Rico
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The first leg matches of the semifinal round of the 2017 Clausura season of Liga MX were played on Thursday evening. Tigres UANL took a 2-0 win and Chivas Gudalajara takes the advantage from a 1-1 draw. Tiuana Xolos and Toluca FC will need to come from behind in the return legs on Sunday in order to make the Liga MX Final.

XOLOS ARE A WOUNDED DOG AFTER AN INJURY FILLED MATCH AGAINST TIGRES UANL

Tiuana Xolos are 90 minutes away from concluding their participation in the 2017 Clausura season, a season in which the team finished at the top of the league for a second consecutive season. Tigres UANL took a 2-0 win over the Xoloitzcuintles on Thursday evening in Monterrey’s Estadio Universitario aka ‘El Volcan’.

Lucas Zelarayan and Javier Aquino scored in a span of three minutes moments before the halftime break and with that the home side Tigres were able to see out the match.

Things started to turn ugly for Xolos in the 21st minute when team captain Juan Carlos ‘Topo’ Valenzuela had to be subbed out of the match due to an injury. It looked like Valenzuela pulled a hamstring when chasing down Tigres’ Ismael Sosa on the left wing. ‘Topo’ joins fellow center-backs Emanuel Aguilera, Yasser Corona and Michael Orozco in the injury list. Xolos were all out of defenders and had to send in young midfielder Luis Chavez to replace Valenzuela. Defensive mid Guido Rodriguez has forced to drop back into defense to cover the absence of the skipper while Chavez took his place in the center of the park.

Xolos had focused all of its efforts on keeping the dangerous Tigres attack at bay and had done a decent job for the majority of the first half. But a misundertanding at the back which highlighted the fact that Rodriguez is not a center-back led to the opening goal of the match. Zelarayan received the ball all alone in the middle of the box and put it away. Another defensive mistake where Juan Carlos Nuñez slipped allowed Aquino to double the lead for Tigres.

In the second half both Tigres and Xolos came out a little more cautiously. Tigres did not want to give away the all important away-goal and Xolos did not want the dangerous Tigres attack to get a third because that would’ve sealed the series before the return leg even kicked off.

But the bad news for Tijuana did not end. Colombian forward Aviles Hurtado also had to be subbed out of the match due to an injury. He was seen on the bench with ice in his groin area.

Club Tijuana will need to recuperate a few players before Sunday’s second leg match at the Estadio Caliente if they are to have a chance against this Tigres side. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00pm (Pacific) / 9:00pm (Eastern).

ADVANTAGEOUS DRAW FOR CHIVAS GUADALAJARA AGAINST TOLUCA FC

Chivas Gudalajara walked away with a positive result from Toluca FC’s Estadio Nemezio Diez. The game ended in a 1-1 draw which has Chivas in the lead with the away-goal and higher seeded position.

The match was very even throughout the entire 90 minutes. Both teams enjoyed spells of the match where they dominated. It all looked like both teams would cancel each other out and end in a scoreless draw but the goals flew in during the final minutes of the match.

The home side Toluca were the more aggressive side in the opening 15 minutes of the match. But Chivas were able to finally get a hold of the ball and push forward. It was the visitors who ended the first half as the more dominant team and most likely to score.

Another even battle ensued during the second half with Chivas looking slightly more dangerous with its speed and youth. A defensive mistake by Rodrigo Salinas on the right side who did not follow his man allowed Chivas’ Rodofo Pizzaro to control a loose ball and open the scoring in the 82nd minute of the match. It was the all important away-goal Chivas had been looking for.

But the joy did not last long for Chivas. The home side quickly equalized with a Fernando Uribe header off of a Rubens Sambueza free kick cross in the 84th minute. The 1-1 draw leaves everything to play for in the return leg. Winner takes all and advances to the final. Chivas holds the tie breaker advantage with a 0-0 or 1-1 draw, any other draw favors Toluca.

The return leg is scheduled for Sunday evening at 4:00pm (Pacific) / 7:00pm (Eastern) at Estadio Chivas in Guadalajara.

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