América had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the 28th minute, when Paul Delgadillo awarded a penalty kick for a foul by Jesús Dueñas on Oribe Peralta. Peralta himself stepped up to take the PK, but he slammed it into the crossbar to keep the game 0-0.
Then, just before halftime, André-Pierre Gignac gave Tigres the lead. The Frenchman went on a run, got around Paolo Goltz, and fired his low shot through the legs of Moisés Muñoz to make it 0-1 in the 45th minute.
América pressed for an equalizer in the second half, and they found it in the 67th minute. Pablo Aguilar nodded on a corner kick and Bruno Valdez finished it off to make it 1-1 and put the Águilas back on level footing.
In the 75th minute, an innocuous-looking foul on Gignac left the Frenchman on the ground; after treatment, he had to be removed from the field on a stretcher and was subbed out for compatriot Andy Delort.
América looked better in the final stages of the game, but they were unable to find a second goal. They were also somewhat lucky to finish the match with all 11 men after Peralta made a reckless tackle on goalkeeper Nahuel Guzmán
With the 1-1 draw, Sunday’s second leg will be a winner-takes-all affair. As there are no tiebreakers in the Gran Final, if the two draw again the match will proceed to extra time and then penalties if needed.
América: Moisés Muñoz, Paolo Goltz, Miguel Ángel Samudio, Pablo Aguilar, Bruno Valdez, José Daniel Guerrero (Edson Álvarez 45′), William da Silva, Rubens Sambueza, Michael Arroyo (Carlos Darwin Quintero 73′), Oribe Peralta, Renato Ibarra.
Tigres: Nahuel Guzmán, Juninho, Hugo Ayala, Jorge Torres Nilo, Lucas Zelarayán (Jorge Estrada 65′), Guido Pizarro, Javier Aquino, Jürgen Damm, Jesús Dueñas, André-Pierre Gignac (Andy Delort 76′), Ismael Sosa (José Rivas 92′).