It was a frigid night in Canada and the field wasn’t in the best condition, but both teams nevertheless came out attacking as they looked to take control of the game. Sebastian Giovinco was dangerous for the hosts, but Tigres created threats of their own with Javier Aquino and Lucas Zelarayán.
True goal-scoring chances were few and far between in the first half, although Giovinco did force a good kick-save out of Nahuel Guzmán just past the 30-minute mark, while the universitarios had a late opportunity through Zelarayán, whose low shot went just wide.
Tigres brought on André-Pierre Gignac at halftime and in the 51st minute they took the lead. Eduardo Vargas sent his first-time volley past Alex Bono to make it 0-1, giving the visitors a valuable away goal.
Jonathan Osorio had a chance to tie it for Toronto just minutes later, but he skied a pass from Jozy Altidore over the bar. But in the 60th minute, Altidore leveled the game with an assist from Marco Delgado to make it 1-1.
In the 88th minute, Osorio atoned for his previous miss when he gave Toronto the lead with a back-heeled finish following a pass from Giovinco. 2-1.
With the 2-1 win, Toronto will advance with a win or draw in next week’s second leg; Tigres need just a 1-0 win to advance on away goals, but if Toronto scores then Tigres will need to win by two to move on. A 2-1 Tigres victory would send the game to extra time.
Toronto: Alex Bono, Drew Moor, Chris Mavinga, Eriq Zavaleta (Nick Hagglund 85′), Jonathan Osorio, Marco Delgado (Víctor Vázquez 79′), Michael Bradley, Justin Morrow, Gregory van der Wiel (Auro 80′), Jozy Altidore, Sebastian Giovinco.
Tigres: Nahuel Guzmán, Juninho, Hugo Ayala, Jorge Torres Nilo, Israel Jiménez, Lucas Zelarayán (Ismael Sosa 78′), Jesús Dueñas, Larry Vázquez (Alberto Acosta 74′), Eduardo Vargas, Javier Aquino, Enner Valencia (André-Pierre Gignac 45′).