EDGAR ZUNIGA - Friday, November 30, 2012
Club Tijuana finished the season undefeated at home, beating Toluca in the first leg of the Liga MX final.
Edgar Castillo and Joe Corona represented for the Three Amigos in the starting lineup as the Xoloitzcuintles once again defeated mighty Toluca at Estadio Caliente, giving the border club a positive yet tenuous lead in the home-and-away series.
Early on, Club Tijuana looked more comfortable, as Toluca struggled to adapt to Estadio Caliente's artificial field. The Xolos pushed forward, looking to score early and force Toluca to make mistakes.
When Toluca did get the ball, the Club Tijuana defense did well to absorb any threats.
Then, in the 23rd minute, Fidel Martínez set off a wild celebration in the stands when he controlled a long pass from Christian Pellerano and fired between Toluca goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera's legs to give the Xolos the lead.
However, Toluca didn't waste much time in responding. Just three minutes later, Luis Tejada passed to Lucas Silva along the right flank and he centered a pass to Edgar Benítez, whose left-footed shot beat Club Tijuana 'keeper Cirilo Saucedo.
In the minutes that followed, both teams had several chances to score, but it wasn't until the 39th that the Xolos reclaimed the lead. A foul by Gerardo Rodríguez on Duvier Riascos led to a free kick by Fernando Arce, who sent the ball to Corona, who redirected the shot toward the far post, where Pablo Aguilar fired the ball into net.
It was a tight play and he could have been called offside, but referee Roberto García Orozco and his assistant Juan Joel Rangel let the goal stand, giving Club Tijuana the 2-1 lead.
The second half was less tense, with Toluca trying to find a way to tie the game, while the Xolos went into counterattack mode.
While Castillo would go the full 90, Corona was subbed out in the 72nd minute for Leandro Augusto. Once again, Greg Garza stayed on the bench.
The scene now shifts to Sunday and Toluca's Estadio Nemesio Díez, where the Xolos will have to fight for all their worth to make their 2-1 advantage lead the way to an unprecedented first championship in the club's short history.