Tigres, Pumas battle to SCCL stalemate

Action from the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal, first-leg match between host Tigres and Pumas (right) on February 22, 2017, in San Nicolas de los Garza, Mexico. (Photo: Mexsport)

SAN NICOLAS DE LOS GARZA, Mexico -- Matias Britos scored in the 62nd minute to help Pumas move closer to a third Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League semifinal appearance thanks to a 1-1 draw in a quarterfinal, first-leg encounter at Tigres on Wednesday.

Nicolas Castillo provided the service for Britos’ equalizer just moments after entering as a substitute for Pumas, which will host the return leg in a week’s time.

Eduardo Vargas struck four minutes before halftime for Tigres, which failed to win for just a third time in 11 home SCCL matches at the Estadio Universitario as it attempts to reach a second consecutive final.

Tigres must now score at least once next week in Mexico City while earning at least a draw, in order to stay alive in the tournament.

Literally seconds after entering the match, Castillo combined with Britos to give Pumas their equalizer.

Britos took an initial pass from Castillo inside the penalty area, and then poked the ball back to him on the left and away from a pack of closing Tigres defenders.

Castillo hit a left-footed cross from near the goal line for Britos, who continued a run to head home his first goal of the tournament from just inside the six-yard box. It was Pumas' first-ever away SCCL goal against a Mexican opponent.

Castillo continued to influence the match and nearly sent a wwinner in the 84th minute, rattling the crossbar with an 8-yard first-time volley.

On the other end, Pumas defender Erik Vera’s goal-line clearance prevented Tigres from receiving a game-winning own goal deep in stoppage time.

Vargas gave Tigres a 1-0 lead after Jurgen Damm opened up Pumas’ defense with a slaloming run that began on the right side of midfield.

After collecting Damm’s pass, Vargas unfurled a ferocious right-footed strike that from 22 yards sailed beyond Alfredo Saldivar’s dive and inside the left post. Saldivar rescued Pumas two minutes later, diving right to deny another low effort from Vargas after a defensive giveaway.