Fast-Starting Inter Takes Narrow Lead in Libertadores Semifinal


JULY 16, 2015

Sao Paolo. Internacional struck two early blows in their Libertadores Cup semifinal against Tigres on Wednesday before the Mexican side rallied then held on with 10 men to leave the tie finely poised at 2-1 ahead of the second leg in Monterrey.

Inter, who won the competition in 2006 and 2010, started the match at a furious pace and the Brazilians were rewarded for their endeavor with a goal after just four minutes.

Argentine midfielder Andres D'Alessandro pounced on a loose ball to fire home a low drive from the edge of the penalty area.

Six minutes later, Valdivia doubled their lead when his shot from the left took a wicked deflection and sailed over the head of stranded goalkeeper Nahuel Guzman.

Tigres were down but not out and regrouped to get back into the contest after 23 minutes when defender Hugo Ayala rose to glance home a cross from former Inter striker Rafael Sobis.

Both sides had chances to add to the scoreline in what was an open and exciting game in front of a capacity crowd at the Beira-Rio stadium.

Although Inter held the upper hand throughout, they were unable to capitalize on Ayala's dismissal after 57 minutes when he picked up his second booking of the match.

"We were controlling the game well, we marked well, we scored two early goals," Inter defender Ernando said in a pitchside interview. "We were a bit upset to lose the goal as that makes it harder for us in the return leg.

"Even with an extra man in the second half, we didn't know how to use our numerical advantage and get the third goal that would make things easier. But we are calm, we won and we will be confident for the return leg."

The teams will meet again in northern Mexico next week, with Tigres' away goal vital in their search to become the first Mexican team to win the tournament since they started competing in South America's version of the Champions League in 1998.

The winners will face either River Plate or Guarani, who will play their semi-final second leg in Paraguay next Tuesday.

Argentina's River won the first leg 2-0 in Buenos Aires on Tuesday.