The Tijuana Xolos played their first game of the 2018 CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday as the border city side faced Honduran team Motagua in Edinburg, Texas.
The first leg of this round of 16 matchup had to be played in Texas because of the current social and political situation in Honduras.
H-E-B Park did not prove to be the best venue for the match as the encounter was delayed in the second half because of a blackout and thunderstorm.
The atmosphere in Edinburg was very intimate in the stadium that has a capacity of under 10 thousand spectators. H-E-B park was not sold out for a game in one of the most prestigious competitions in America. There were more Mexico jerseys in the stands than Xolos or Motagua jerseys combined.
The game itself was not the most entertaining, but did remain intense throughout the 90 minutes.
Motagua seemed like the side that was more likely to score by the end of the first half, but Gibran Lajud emerged as the hero, as he has all season for Club Tijuana. The deadlock was finally broken in the 71st minute of the clash as Ignacio Rivero released a potent strike from about 20 yards out that found the back of the net. That goal proved to be the decisive one as Club Tijuana went home with a disappointing, slim win against a team that should not have been this tough to beat. Especially considering that Diego Cocca used all of his starting Liga MX players.
— Francisco Velasco (@FranciscoEfV) February 22, 2018
Lineup: Gibran Lajud, Omar Mendoza, Pablo Aguilar, Juan Carlos Valenzuela, Damian Perez, Damian Musto, Ignacio Malcorra (26’ Julio Angulo), Ignacio Rivero, Mateus Goncalves (53’ Rubio Rubin), Miller Bolanos (90’ Luis Chavez), Juan Martin Lucero
Diego Cocca surprisingly used the same starting XI, with the exception of Gustavo Bou, that obtained a 4-1 win against Pumas UNAM last Saturday. This especially came as a shock with the tough match this weekend against Club America in Mexico City. The defense was shaky at times in this game, but Gibran Lajud had an excellent performance in net. It was strange to see Ignacio Malcorra come out of the game after just 26 minutes, and injury is a possibility. Julio Angulo looked solid off the bench as he provided the assist for Ignacio Rivero’s goal. Rubio Rubin also looked decent off the bench in his debut with the team.
Man Of The Match: Gibran Lajud
Ignacio Rivero scored the lone goal of the game, but without Gibran Lajud, the game could have ended 2-1 or 3-1. This was an unspectacular performance by the Aztec Canines, but the Mexican keeper was there to save the day. Lajud is having the best season of his Liga MX career and is now proving to be a difference maker in this international competition.
Main Talking Point: Club America
The main talking point from this match is the difference between Club Tijuana and Club America ahead of Saturday’s Liga MX clash. The Border City Dogs needed a wonder goal by Ignacio Rivero to scrape this win against Motagua in Texas. Meanwhile, Las Aguilas had a more talented rival and a more difficult venue to visit, but came away with a dominant 5-1 win against Saprissa in Costa Rica. The game against Los Azulcremas in Mexico City already seemed like a tough task this weekend, but now seems virtually unwinnable for this Xolos’ team.