Cruz Azul topped Tigres UANL 2-1 on second-half goals from Yoshimar Yotun and Jonathan Rodriguez to win the first-ever edition of Leagues Cup Wednesday night at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas.
Guido Pizarro scored a 90th-minute header to add late suspense to a heated all-Mexican affair that saw Tigres goalkeeper Nahuel Guzman earn a straight red card in extra time for elbowing Edgar Mendez.
With new head coach Robert Siboldi managing just his second game since taking the reins from ousted Pedro Caixinha, La Maquina took home their second trophy of the semester (after the Supercopa MX in July), while Ricardo ’Tuca’ Ferretti and company suffered yet another disappointment in an international tournament.
Cruz Azul were clearly the more dangerous side in the first half, putting Guzman to work early on between the sticks. But it was the crossbar that stopped La Maquina’s best chance, keeping Milton Caraglio’s thundering header out of the back of the net in the 10th minute.
Meanwhile, what Tigres lacked in offensive prowess they made up for it with attitude, as Rafael Carioca got into it with his opponents in a messy melee that saw the Brazilian midfielder yellow carded, along with the Cementeros’ Jesus Corona and Jonathan Rodriguez.
The chances remained few and far between in the second period, although Tigres finally began to find their groove in attack when Edu Vargas came on for Lucas Zelarayan.
But just when the Regiomontano club was starting to tilt the balance in their favor, Jorge Torres Nilo brought down Caraglio inside the box - a clear penalty that Yoshun fired home with authority to break the ice in the 73rd minute.
And just three minutes later, Rodriguez put the game to bed - and secured Leagues Cup glory for Tigres - with an empty-netter after juking the keeper.
Pizarro's late header injected some life into Tigres, but that was quickly extinguished when Guzman's violent antics left his side with 10 men and no time left to force penalty kicks.