Tigres had chances throughout the game, with their first coming in the 7th minute. Eduardo Vargas played in Enner Valencia, but his shot was blocked by the defense. Vargas then tried his luck with a shot from outside the box that the keeper sent out for a corner kick.
The universitarios kept trying from distance as Saprissa’s defense stood firm and kept them from getting dangerous opportunities in the box. The hosts had chances of their own, and in the 18th minute they forced a save out of Nahuel Guzmán that led to a dangerous rebound, but Tigres was able to clear it away.
Then, in the 33rd minute, Tigres had a penalty shout when a Julián Quiñones shot was stopped by a possible handball, but referee Jair Marrufo waved play on.
The visitors continued to look dangerous in the second half, but they couldn’t find the breakthrough. They came to rue their missed opportunities in the 71st minute, when Saprissa took the lead. From a corner kick, Johan Venegas headed the ball home to make it 1-0 for the hosts.
Tigres looked for a response, but despite having the majority of possession they were unable to find an away goal.
With the 1-0 win, Saprissa will advance to the quarterfinals with a win or draw in next week’s second leg, as well as a one-goal loss in which they score (2-1, 3-2, etc.) due to the away goals tiebreaker. Tigres will advance with a two-goal win, while a 1-0 win would send the series to penalties.
Saprissa: Aaron Cruz, Michael Barrantes, Aubrey David, Luis Hernández, Ricardo Blanco Mora, Marvin Angulo (Alejandro Cabral 85′), Juan Golobio, Mariano Torres, Román Castillo (Randall Leal 67′), Johan Venegas (John Jairo Ruiz 81′), Christian Bolaños.
Tigres: Nahuel Guzmán, Francisco Meza, Hugo Ayala, Jorge Torres Nilo, Israel Jiménez, Eduardo Vargas, Rafael Carioca, Jesús Dueñas, Enner Valencia, Javier Aquino, Julián Quiñones (Luis Quiñones 72′)