TFC loses to Tigres, but advances to Champions League semis

It wasn’t pretty, but it was enough to get the job done.

Toronto FC dropped a 3-2 decision to reigning Mexican league champions Tigres on Tuesday night in the second leg of its CONCACAF Champions League quarter-final.

Despite the loss, the Reds still managed to advance to the semifinals – the final aggregate score was 4-4, but Toronto advanced on the away goals rule.

Toronto earned a 2-1 win in the series opener last week at BMO Field.

This marks the second time TFC has reached the Champions League semis, having previously qualified for the final four in 2012 under Dutch coach Aron Winter.

The Liga MX champions dominated possession and dictated the pace for most of Tuesday’s match against the MLS Cup winners, who had to sub out injured defenders Justin Morrow and Chris Mavinga. Tigres positively surged in attack for the final 30 minutes, as TFC was forced onto the back foot and just held on for the draw it needed to move on to the next round.

Toronto took the lead in the 64th minute via an own goal by midfielder Rafael Carioca as the visitors controlled the ball in Tigres’ penalty box. The hosts equalized five minutes later through Chilean international Eduardo Vargas, who nodded home off a corner kick.

Sebastian Giovinco restored TFC’s lead in the 73rd minute when he whipped in a free kick that tucked inside the near post. It was a well-placed shot by the Italian, but Tigres goalkeeper Nahuel Guzmán should have palmed it out of danger.

The Mexicans battle back and knotted the score a second time when French forward André-Pierre Gignac scored on a tap in the 84th minute. Gignac dragged his shot wide of the far post moments later after slipping in behind Toronto’s defence.

Gignac converted from the penalty spot deep into injury time, but it wasn’t enough for Tigres.

TFC will meet the winner of Club America (Mexico) versus Tauro FC (Panama) in the semifinals. Club America won the opening leg of its quarter-final, 4-0 at home. The second leg is Wednesday night.

Earlier on Tuesday, the New York Red Bulls earned a 3-1 home win over Mexican side Club Tijuana to win their quarter-final 5-1 on aggregate.

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