Tijuana was supposed to have no problem in the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League, but Luis Angel Firpo made their Group 7 opener much tougher than anyone expected it would be. The Salvadoran club were physical in the midfield and broke up the Xolos attack, forcing the Mexican favorites to settle for a scoreless draw in San Salvador.
The match was ugly for long stretches, which was exactly what Firpo was aiming for. Their physicality and five-man midfield were designed to make things difficult on Tijuana in the middle and it worked to perfection. They conceded Xolos the ball for stretches, which took away the visitors' favored counter-attack and without space to operate, Tijuana struggled to create chances.
Firpo's tactics worked well, but not perfectly. Tijuana did get a couple chances in close, but their finishing was lacking. The Salvadorans weren't much better, scuffing their handful of chances as well.
As the match wound down, Tijuana began to accept that a win was unlikely. They still pushed, but not as frantically as they did in the middle portion of the match and when Firpo wasted time -- which they did expertly -- the visitors did not protest. Firpo went in search of a draw and that is exactly what they got, while Xolos will be disappointed not to win, but an away point is hardly the worst result.
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