Tigres UANL, on the strength of a long, deflected shot on an otherwise anemic offensive night, outlasted Real Salt Lake with a 1-0 victory in Leagues Cup action at Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday evening.
Though Tigres led the first half in possession by a nearly 2-1 margin, and 7-2 in shots, both of RSL's shots were on target compared to just one of Tigres' attempts. RSL thought they caught a major break in the 24th minute, when Jefferson Savarino got loose for a one-on-one with Tigres 'keeper Nahuel Guzman. Guzman handled the ball well outside the box, but Savarino was ruled offside to save Tigres from a potential red card and forced 'keeper swap.
It looked as if RSL found the opener via a Joao Plata shot in the 55th minute — several minutes after an apparent Damir Kreilach goal was ruled offside — but his well-worked attempt hit the post. Less than two minutes later, Tigres standout Eduardo Vargas let a long shot fly; it deflected off Justen Glad and caught Nick Rimando off guard, going in to put Tigres up.
RSL did create some opportunities to match the Vargas goal, but made things harder for themselves by losing Brooks Lennon to a red card in the 84th minute (originally ruled a yellow) for a high boot that caught Javier Aquino badly.
- 57' – TIG – Eduardo Vargas | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: It's perhaps a moral victory to hold Tigres — arguably the favorite in this inaugural edition of the tournament — to a single goal, but it has to sting to lose this way, especially since Plata was so close to giving RSL a lead. But it's back to the grind of the West race and a trip to Frisco on Saturday for a match with potential playoff effects.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: The Vargas goal was the difference maker in the match, a combination of Tigres chutzpah and RSL tough luck. (There was also a comical moment late in the match once RSL was down to 10 men. It looked as if late sub Andre-Pierre Gignac had a chance in on goal, but was disrupted by a cat who ran onto the field and nimbly went from Gignac's flank to the goalmouth with the presence of a seasoned fullback.)
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Vargas gets the nod here, though on the RSL side, Plata hitting the post and efforting throughout his time on the pitch showed how much he made of his opportunity to play.
- RSL: Saturday, July 27 at FC Dallas (8 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+, DAZN in Canada)
- Tigres: Sunday, July 28 at CD Guadalajara (Liga MX, 8 pm ET)