VANCOUVER, B.C - Vancouver faced a daunting task in the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals vs Tigres UANL. Vancouver scored early, but could not muster any further offence. Tigres advance to the CONCACAF Champions League final after a 2-1 win and a 4-1 total aggregate advantage over Whitecaps FC. Brek Shea opened the scoring in the first half, Andre-Pierre Gignac, and Damian Alvarez both scored in the second half to silence a crowd of 16,258 supporters.
Midfielder, Guido Pizarro was the lone Tigres player who spoke to the press following the match. He was delighted to advance to the final, and shared his thoughts on the win,
"I'm very happy about us going into the final," said Pizarro. "I'm hoping that we can go in and confront the Pachuca team in the best way possible. We're very excited about going to the final."
"When you play against good teams, and Tigres are a top, top team with top, top players, and a top coach," said Carl Robinson. "You have to make those defining moments and take them chances. Unfortunately we didn’t, so we have to accept it. We’ll take the experience, because it’s a great experience playing against a good team and good players, and we’ll bottle it and go again for next time. There’s nothing to be ashamed of in that locker room there. This two-year journey, we’ve never been in this territory before. We’ve gone toe-to-toe , and we’ve just come up a little bit short."
"We tried, as a group," said Fredy Montero. "It wasn’t the result that we wanted, but I’m proud. For 45 minutes we thought that we could get more. But this is soccer. They are a top-level team, and today they proved that they can play anywhere the same way that they play at home. That’s something that we should look at after and try to do the same."
Whitecaps FC goalkeeper, David Ousted had 5 saves against Tigres, and did his best to keep Vancouver within striking distance. Ousted summed up his thoughts on the match.
“I think we played well today," said Ousted. "For the majority of the game, we went toe to toe with them and was close to having the result that we wanted. It took a little bit of brilliance from them to score that 1-1 goal and kind of kill our momentum a little bit."
The Opening 45
Vancouver needed to score early and they did, in the 2' minute. Brek Shea turned and smashed a shot on target that eluded Tigres keeper, Nahuel Guzman. The Whitecaps had an elusive first goal as they pressed forward in searching of another.
Brek Shea was forced to exit the match in the 10' minute after an awkward landing. Shea appeared to injure his left knee. Alphonso Davies entered the match on the left flank.
"It doesn’t look good, to be fair," said Carl Robinson. "It’s a blow for us because he obviously got his goal and we were hoping Brek would have an impact on the game, and he certainly did at the start. It probably looks like it might be a couple of weeks, which is unfortunate, because I’ve got Yordy (Reyna) and Erik (Hurtado) in the same boat."
Vancouver's implemented strategy was on point in the opening forty-five. It was Tigres, and not the Whitecaps that looked frustrated. The Caps were able to play switched on and at the same time, they kept the back door shut. Vancouver played patient football.
Heading into the interval, the visitors held a 60% - 40% possession advantage with nothing to show for it. Vancouver had the lone goal in the second leg, thanks to Shea.
The Second Half
Just as the Whitecaps looked to be building momentum and playing with confidence in the Tigres half, it all went to shambles thanks to a Tigres tally.
Javier Aquino found an unmarked Andre-Pierre Gignac outside the Vancouver box. The Frenchman who played for France at Euro 2016 delivered a sublime curling shot into the far top corner. David Ousted had no chance, as Gignac displayed a pure class of talent.
It was a sweet display of skill that awoke Tigres. Guido Pizarro was not surprised by the cracker from Gignac. The win was never in doubt according to a confident Pizarro.
"I'm thinking that the outcome was already decided," said Pizarro. "The first goal was very suprising for us. We were thinking about keeping it at a good play. It was very, basically easy for us."
Vancouver had to open up the match as they trailed 3-1 on aggregate with Tigres owning the away goal rule. It seemed as if Gignac's goal brought some life to Tigres. They looked poised and comfortable going forward. The visitors would soon strike again in the 86' minute.
Moments after Damian Alvarez entered the match, he was in the right place, at the right time. Alvarez was wide open when setup man, Javier Aquino found him with a great ball. The 27 year-old rifled the ball past Ousted from a point-blank position.
The Whitecaps did their best, but came up short against a Tigres side that was simply too strong. This is a great learning experience and a valuable match for the young Whitecaps. The talent and skill that Tigres have, could not be matched. Vancouver should be able to hold their head up high after competing against such a high-powered club.
Man of the Match
Aquino was terrific in setting up both goals for Tigres. He found Gignac, and Damian Alvarez, to sink the hopes of the Whitecaps. On a team with the likes of Gignac, Vargas, and Pizarro, Aquino played the role of distributor and helped Tigres advance to the CONCACAF Champions League final vs CF Pachuca (Liga MX),
Vancouver Whitecaps Starting XI: David Ousted; Sheanon Williams, 77 (Kyle Greig), Kendall Waston(C), Tim Parker, Jordan Harvey; Andrew Jacobson, 61 (Tony Tchani), Matias Laba; Cristian Techera, Christian Bolaños, Brek Shea, 10 (Alphonso Davies); Fredy Montero. 4-2-3-1.
Tigres UNAL Starting XI: Nahuel Guzman; Luis Rodriguez, Hugo Ayala, Juninho(C) 86 (Francisco Meza), Jorge Torres Nilo; Ismael Sosa 83 (Damian Alvarez), Jesus Duenas, Gudio Pizarro; Eduardo Vargas, 78 (Lucas Zelarayan), Andre-Pierre Gignac. 4-2-3-1