Mexican side Tigres UANL came from a goal down to beat Club Universitario de Sucre 2-1 in Tuesday night’s Copa Libertadores last-16 first leg in Bolivia.
(Video) Goal: Club Universitario de Sucre 1-2 Tigres UANL – Damian Alvarez gets his third goal in two games
(Video) Goal: Club Universitario de Sucre 1-1 Tigres UANL – Esqueda grabs a vital away goal
Club Universitario de Sucre vs Tigres UANL – Copa Libertadores preview: Mexicans look to take advantage of favourable draw
In a week when most of the Mexican soccer press has focused on Wednesday night’s CONCACAF Champions League final between Club America and Montreal Impact, Tigres made the lengthy trip down to Bolivia knowing they had a fantastic chance of getting past one of the weakest sides in the Copa Libertadores and progressing to the quarter finals.
Boss Tuca Ferretti, who is renowned for playing under-strength sides in continental competitions, named a full strength side for the tie. He made just one change from the side that beat Queretaro 3-1 last weekend, as Jose Torres Nilo replaced Edgar Solis in defence.
Tigres got off to the worst possible start as 31 year old Jorge Gonzalez put the hosts 1-0 ahead in only the second minute, nodding in a David Castro corner.
The goal clearly rattled the Mexicans, and they struggled to settle into the game. They weren’t helped by a shocking playing surface, but ultimately they had Argentine international goalie Nahuel Guzman to thank for keeping them in the game.
Prior to this game the Bolivians hadn’t conceded a single goal at home in the Copa Libertadores, but slowly Tigres played themselves into the match and started to look the more threatening side as the first half drew to a close.
Damian Alvarez had their best chance of the opening 45 minutes when he fired wide from ten yards in the 35th minute.
Ten minutes after the restart the visitors were deservedly level. Brazilian striker Rafael Sobis, who was once linked with a move to the Premier League, flicked the ball to former Atlas midfielder Enrique Esqueda. The 27 year old was just onside and he raced clear of the defence, rounded Universitario keeper Juan Robles, and slid the ball into an empty net.
It was his fourth goal in his last two Copa Libertadores games after he scored a hat-trick against Peruvians Juan Aurich in Tigres’ final group game.
The goal shocked the Bolivians, and from that moment onwards it looked like there would only be one winner.
The inevitable happened less than ten minutes later when Damian Alvarez doubled Tigres’ tally to give them the lead. After scoring twice in his team’s weekend win over Queretaro the veteran winger has hit a rich vein of form, and he was never going to miss after collecting Arevalo’s pass and beating a defender to go one on one with Robles.
The two away goals mean the Mexicans have a great chance of qualifying for the quarter finals where they would either play Colombians Atletico Nacional or Ecuadorians Emelec.
Next up for Tigres is a vital Liga MX game at home to league leaders Chivas, while Club Universitario host Universitario Pando in the Bolivian top flight.
The second leg is next Tuesday.