Mexico’s rivalry of the decade, Club America vs. Tigres UANL, lived up to the hype in the Leagues Cup semifinal Tuesday night as Tigres won in dramatic fashion with a 5-3 penalty shootout victory after a 2-2 draw.
The ‘regiomontanos’ avenged last month’s defeat against the ‘Aguilas’ for the Campeon de Campeones title and in the process booked their spot in next month’s final in Las Vegas, where they’ll face either LA Galaxy or Cruz Azul.
The key to the reigning Liga MX champion’s win was a pair of America own-goals and, per the usual, Nahuel Guzman’s heroics in penalty kicks. The Argentine keeper blocked Leo Lopez’s shot, while Carlos Salcedo converted the game-winner.
The ‘regiomontanos’ struck first in the 14th minute by taking advantage of ‘Las Aguilas’ lining up with inexperienced Antonio Lopez as left back.
Jürgen Damm made a decisive run on Lopez’s wing and sent a lethal cross looking for Enner Valencia to easily tap it in. Paul Aguilar, who started as a center back and not in his usual full back position, made an attempt to clear the ball before the Ecuadorian striker could get to it, but ended up scoring an own-goal. Club America didn’t take long to respond and level things up. Roger Martinez was brought down by Salcedo inside the box, and the referee whistled a penalty after VAR review.
Andres Ibarguen scored from the penalty spot as Nahuel Guzman dived to the wrong side.
In the second half, ‘Piojo’ Herrera made a sub to strengthen the backline and neutralize Damm. Meanwhile, ‘Tuca’ Ferretti made his moves looking for the winning goal, including getting Andre-Pierre Gignac onto the pitch with little more than half an hour remaining.
The final minutes of the game were a rollercoaster of emotions.
Club America seemed to have their ticket to the final booked after Ibarguen scored his brace in the 83rd minute with a powerful shot that Guzman couldn’t fully contain.
However, in the fifth and last minute of stoppage time, an overzealous Bruno Valdez chipped a header over teammate Oscar Jimenez in an attempt to clear a desperate America throw-in.
With momentum suddenly on their side, Tigres took care of business in the penalty shootout and secured their spot in the September 18 final.