SANDY, Utah (Wednesday, March 2, 2016) – For 90 minutes on Wednesday night, Real Salt Lake got the best of its CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal foes Tigres UANL. FW Joao Plata scored an early goal and RSL put the pressure on the Liga MX champions for the duration of the match at a sold out Rio Tinto Stadium.
But as the clock ticked to 90:00, dynamic Tigres striker Andre-Pierre Gignac broke his series-long silence and scored an open-net goal to equalize the match 1-1 and downed RSL in the series, 3-1. Tigres will now face Queretaro in the Semifinals while RSL will turn its attention toward the MLS regular season opener on Sunday against Orlando City SC.
The crowd of 20,921 was the third-largest in Rio Tinto Stadium history, trailing only the 21,004 that saw RSL top the LA Galaxy 3-0 on Sept. 19, 2015, and the 20,956 in attendance for a 1-1 draw with Orlando City SC on July 4, 2015.
Trailing 2-0 after the first leg in Monterrey, Mexico, RSL was the aggressor from the opening kick on Wednesday.
After facing 19 shots in the first leg a week earlier in Mexico, Real Salt Lake limited Tigres to just two shots in the first half, none of them on frame. RSL took advantage of that opportunity by jumping on the board in the 22nd minute on a goal from Plata.
The play started when FW Juan Manuel Martinez played a tremendous ball with the outside of his foot up the right side to lead FW Yura Movsisyan into space. Movsisyan whipped a cross in and Plata slid alongside his defender and poked it past the on-rushing Tigres goalkeeper for the 1-0 advantage in the match.
That score remained until halftime and RSL nearly equalized the series early in the second half. On a ball through the box, Martinez just missed getting his foot to it at the edge of the six-yard box but it skipped through to Movsisyan who smashed the point-blank shot off the crossbar in the 55th minute.
Relentless pressure in the attacking third led to RSL earning a penalty in the 72nd minute. Salt Lake won possession in the left corner and Martinez used some creative footwork to blitz past his defender before being pulled down on the edge of the box.
MF Javier Morales stepped to the spot and made his run-up, hesitating before his shot but Nahuel Guzman read the shot and made the save, diving to his right to block it before chasing it down to prevent Morales from tapping in the rebound and the score remained 1-0 in the match and 2-1 in the series.
That stop would prove costly for RSL, as the home side went to three men in the back after DF Aaron Maund was forced out of the match after clashing heads with Jesus Duenas. After a quick change of possession in the final minutes of the match, Gignac charged on goal, got around GK Nick Rimando and put his shot into the open net to even up the match at 1-1 and put the series out of reach at 3-1 with his 91st-minute score.
Real Salt Lake was the last of four MLS teams to be eliminated from Champions League play after D.C. United, the LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders FC all saw the same fate on Tuesday and Wednesday.
RSL will now face Orlando City SC in the MLS regular season opener on Sunday in the club’s first ever regular season visit to Florida. Kickoff for Sunday’s match is scheduled for Noon MT with live television coverage on KMYU.
REAL SALT LAKE 1-1 TIGRES UANL (1-3 Agg.)
WEDNESDAY, March 2, 2016
Rio Tinto Stadium; Sandy, Utah
Goals by Period 1 2 F
Real Salt Lake 1 0 1
Tigres UANL 0 1 1
RSL: Joao Plata (Yura Movsisyan) 22’
TIG: Andre-Pierre Gignac (Israel Jimenez) 91+’
TIG: Andre-Pierre Gignac (Caution, Foul) 10’
RSL: Tony Beltran (Caution, Foul) 25’
TIG: Israel Jimenez (Caution, Foul) 43’
RSL: Javier Morales (Caution, Foul) 74’
Real Salt Lake (4-2-3-1): Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran, Jamison Olave, Aaron Maund (Jordan Allen, 89’), Chris Wingert; Kyle Beckerman, Sunday Stephen Obayan; Juan Manuel Martinez, Javier Morales, Joao Plata; Yura Movsisyan (Olmes Garcia, 84’).
Subs not used: Jeff Attinella, Justen Glad, Luke Mulholland, John Stertzer, Devon Sandoval.
Tigres UANL (4-2-3-1): Nahuel Guzman; Israel Jimenez, Juninho, Jose Rivas, Jose Torres (Manuel Viniegra, 76’); Guido Pizarro, Jesus Duenas; Javier Aquino, Lucas Zelarayan (Damian Alvarez, 69’), Jurgen Damm (Hugo Ayala, 83’); Andre-Pierre Gignac.
Subs not used: Enrique Palos, Jorge Estrada, Hector Mancilla, Jonathan Espericueta.