The Tijuana Xolos played the first leg of their quarterfinal matchup against the New York Red Bulls on Tuesday.
Over 20 thousand fans filled the Estadio Caliente as the home team had a very disappointing result that resulted in anger and frustration for the players and fans.
The game was highly entertaining, but there were also some very unfortunate incidents to see at the Mictlan.
The action in the game started early. Gibran Lajud pulled off a key save in the seventh minute, but then Bradley Wright-Phillips opened the score just a minute later. Damian Perez gifted the sphere to the Englishman and he did not waste the golden opportunity as he buried the ball past Gibran Lajud. Red Bulls’ keeper Luis Robles was easily the man of the match in the encounter and he started with his brilliance early in the game as well. The American shot-stopper was saving everything that came his way as the Aztec Canines became frustrated with each failed attempt to try to beat Robles.
The Xolos finally managed to get past the Red Bulls’ captain in the 63rd minute with a header by Ignacio Rivero. Unfortunately for the Border City Dogs, the goal was called offside and the score remained 1-0 in the Red Bulls’ favor. Moments later, Bradley Wright-Phillips scored his second of the night to give the away team a 2-0 lead. The English striker somehow managed to pull off a shot in between three of Club Tijuana’s defenders from inside of the penalty area.
That put an end to the game as the Xolos could not do anything after that goal. The team tried and had a few more opportunities before the final whistle, but just could not get past Luis Robles. The game was very intense throughout the encounter and there were scuffles between the players even after the final whistle. The Xolos will now need three goals in the second leg at the Red Bull Arena to advance to the semifinals of the CCL in what should be a very arduous task.
— THE CHAMPIONS (@TheChampions) March 7, 2018
Decisive Moment: Offside Goal
The officiating in this match was very poor, to say the least, but one of the defining moments of the encounter came because of an officiating error. A legitimate goal by Ignacio Rivero was whistled offside in the 63rd minute that could have changed the game completely. The Red Bulls had a 1-0 lead at that point and Rivero’s goal would have tied it up, but instead the Red Bulls scored their second of the night shortly after. That sealed the result.
Man of The Match: Luis Robles
Luis Robles had one of the more impressive performances ever by a goalkeeper at the Estadio Caliente. The American shot-stopper compiled 10 total saves in the 90 minutes of play and was really the catalyst for the Red Bulls on the day. Bradley Wright-Phillips scored the two goals, but the game could have easily ended in the Xolos’ favor had it not been for Luis Robles. Bradley Wright-Phillips gave his opinion on Robles’ masterful performance after the game. He said, “He was amazing, never surprised me, but today he was unbelievable. It was a performance we needed in a place like this and he stood up to them.” Robles himself also commented on his showing and said, “The defense played great. If anything, they made my job easier tonight with some of the shots that I faced. Especially at the end, they sacrificed their bodies and put everything into it. I think the whole defense should be man of the match tonight.”
— Francisco Velasco (@FranciscoEfV) March 7, 2018
Main Talking Point: Players and Fans Lost Control
The referee was at fault for the various scuffles between the players throughout the match as he failed to control the game. The official did not give out enough cards, which caused the players to make risky tackles with no punishment in the clash. The Xolos’ players did lose control, especially Pablo Aguilar, who did not demonstrate his leadership as the captain of Club Tijuana in this game. The fans took it a step further and were disgraceful at the Estadio Caliente. Throughout the match, the fans were great and created a vibrant atmosphere at the Mictlan. The Xolos’ supporters group, “La Masakr3” created an impressive tifo of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre before the game, which added to the already vibrant and intense setting. After the game is when the fans completely lost it as they pelted the Red Bulls’ players with various liquids as they walked off the pitch. The fans that did this made all Liga MX fans look bad, especially in a game that was watched by several Americans. This was sad to see, and definitely has no place in a professional soccer setting.
Marakr3 tifo pic.twitter.com/4BXPFWRnQM
— NostraCapo (@MetroCapo) March 7, 2018
New York Red Bulls’ coach Jesse Marsch gave his input on the surprising result for the Metropolitan side. He said, “It wasn’t an easy game, took a little bit of luck. In the end, it’s a wonderful result for us, but its only halftime. This is far from over. We know that going back to Red Bull Arena we’re going to have a very tough match again”. Xolos manager Diego Cocca also commented on the result and the Red Bulls’ performance. Cocca said, “They took much more than what they came looking for and based on what they demonstrated, the return leg is still open.”