MONTERREY, Mexico -- Pachuca scored an all-important away goal in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League final against Tigres, drawing 1-1 at El Volcan on Tuesday.
Raul "Deditos" Lopez's free kick ended Pachuca's 270-minute scoring drought just three minutes into the game. It wasn't a superb free kick -- Eduardo Vargas' deflection helped push the ball away from goalkeeper Nahuel Guzman's reach -- but in that instant, the close to 100 Pachuca fans who made the trip to Nuevo Leon felt on top of the world.
With the 1-0 lead, Pachuca permitted Tigres to dictate the flow of the game. The decision was a risky one, but it was one Diego Alonso and his coaching staff were willing to take, considering the speed wingers Hirving "Chucky" Lozano and Jonathan Urretaviscaya can offer down the flanks.
Tigres' desire eventually proved too much to handle and, in the 32nd minute, Ismael Sosa levelled the match -- firing home a loose ball in 18-yard box after a fumble from keeper Alfonso Blanco.
Blanco's error allowed Tigres to get back into the game, but in the second half, he had his moment of redemption.
In the 66th minute, Vargas stood in front of Blanco, preparing to take a penalty that could have given Tigres a 2-1 lead, but the 29-year-old reacted brilliantly to deny the Chile international.
With Tigres thrown forward looking for the go-ahead goal, Pachuca had one clear shot in the 83rd minute as Urretaviscaya found space in the box. His right-footed drive was blocked, however, leaving the score level.
Next Wednesday, Pachuca hosts Tigres in the return leg at Estadio Hidalgo, a place where Los Tuzos haven't lost in 2017.