Mexican side Tigres’ hopes of claiming a first-leg advantage in the Copa Libertadores final were frustrated by River Plate here Wednesday in a 0-0 stalemate.
Tigres, aiming to become the first Mexican side to win South American club football’s most prestigious tournament, struggled to find a way through a rugged defensive display from their Argentinian opponents.
A capacity crowd of more than 40,000 left disappointed after a game where both sides failed to create many goal scoring chances.
River will leave Mexico confident of claiming their third Libertadores crown, to set alongside their victories in 1986 and 1996, when the two teams meet for the second leg in Buenos Aires next Wednesday.
A cagey first half saw Tigres create the better chances, with the Mexicans hitting the bar in the 18th minute when Egidio Arevalo’s cross was deflected onto the woodwork by Leonel Vangioni.
Tigres threatened again moments later when Jurgen Damm surged down the right and cut back a cross superbly for Rafael Sobis.
The midfielder was just unable to direct his header wide of Marcelo Barovero as the River keeper saved instinctively.
That 20th-minute effort was the highlight of the opening 45 minutes, with Tigres keeper Nahuel Guzman not required to make a single save against a River team who appeared content to defend in depth and wait for opportunities on the counter-attack.
The only brief threat from River came midway through the half when Lucas Alario made a menacing dart into the box, only for Guzman to snuff out the danger by snaffling the ball from his feet.
A fractious opening period had its fair share of niggles, with Vangioni and Gabriel Mercado both picking up bookings for River.
Sobis was also cautioned for protesting a fair but firm tackle from River defender Jonatan Maidana.
A disappointing second half followed the same pattern, although River had strong calls for a penalty turned down when Jose Rivas brought down Nicolas Bertolo.
Tigres again created the better chances, however, with Juninho testing Barovero with a long-range free-kick which kept low.
Damm should have done better when put through on goal as the minutes ticked down, opting to try and round Barovero rather than shoot to squander a golden chance for the home side.