UANL Tigres' road to the knockout stages of the CONCACAF Champions League has been anything but easy and it was difficult again on Tuesday night. It took a 90th minute goal by Jorge Espericueta just to earn a 1-1 draw with Real Esteli, a goal that proved to be the death knell for the Nicaraguan side, who are now eliminated from the competition.
Knowing that they needed a win to avoid elimination, Esteli played their best match of the tournament. Tigres still had the better of the early play, but the home side put in a good shift and it paid off in the 53rd minute when Juan Barrera's powerful header of a corner kick put Esteli in front.
Once down a goal, Tigres really turned things up. Alan Pulido, Fernando Navarro and Taufic Garcia all had chances, but neither could finish. Eventually, the visitors' pressure relented and Esteli began to grab some control in the final minutes.
But just when it seemed as if Tigres would lose in Nicaragua, Alberto Acosta crossed for Espericueta in extra time. It was a fine pass that left Espericueta a simple tap in for a Tigres road draw.
Tigres are now one point ahead of Alajuelense in Group 6. With their final match coming at home against the Costa Ricans, they are just a win in Mexico away from the knockout stages, but things are still very much up in the air because an Alajuelense win and maybe even a draw would see them through at the expense of the favored Mexicans.