Photo: Tijuana v. Toluca
Tijuana defeated Toluca 2-1 on the strength of goals by Fidel Martinez and Pablo Aguilar, taking the lead in the final of the Mexican Apertura 2012 season with one match to play.
The Xolos controlled possession throughout Thursday’s game on their home field, Estadio Caliente, and put pressure on Toluca goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera both by attacking down the sidelines and penetrating up the middle of the field.
After failing to convert in the very early going, Tijuana got on the scoreboard when Martinez, an Ecuadorian midfielder, settled a pass from Argentina’s Cristian Pellerano with his chest and then knocked a right-footed strike through Talavera’s legs in the 24th minute.
Toluca responded immediately, tying the score at 1-1 two minutes later when Paraguay’s Edgar Benitez received a pass from Brazilian midfielder Lucas Silva and finished with his left foot.
The intensity dropped for several minutes, but Aguilar, a Paraguayan defenseman, gave the Xolos the lead for good shortly before halftime when he converted a pass from American Joe Corona.
Tijuana remained the superior side in the second half and had two chances to add an insurance goal in the 58th and 60th minutes, but Colombian striker Duvier Riascos was unable to convert either of the opportunities.
The second leg of the final will be played Sunday in Toluca and decide the Apertura season.
Tijuana is new to Mexico’s first division while Toluca is one of the most successful clubs in the Mexican soccer league with 10 titles, one short of Guadalajara’s record of 11 championships.