Head Coach Ronny Deila made two changes from the lineup which took to the field at BMO Field on Saturday, with Keaton Parks and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi in for Maxi Moralez and Jesus Medina.
Taking on regular tournament finalists, NYCFC were slight underdogs in the eyes of many in the buildup, but they flew out of the blocks in the first leg creating chances from the jump.
A fired-up NYC created numerous clear chances to score in the first 45’, with the first arriving in the opening five minutes when Alex Callens almost scored in his third-successive Champions League match, instead firing just over the bar from a corner.
More opportunities fell for Alex Ring, Alexandru Mitriță and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi but they came up against a Tigres goalkeeper in Nahuel Guzman in excellent form.
Héber had another chance to work the Argentine stopper in the final minutes of the half and he was once again equal to the side footed shot after NYCFC’s no.9 found space to strike from Ring’s service.
Goalless at the break, Deila’s men picked up where they left off in the second half, forcing chances which they were unfortunately unable to take.
Héber went close again three minutes after the restart when Anton Tinnerholm found him with a cutback but the Brazilian’s shot from close range was blocked and he was replaced after a lively showing by Taty Castellanos on 64’.
Jesus Medina and Maxi Moralez followed their fellow South American forward into the game shortly after in place of Ismael Tajouri-Shradi and Keaton Parks as Deila shook up his attack in search of the go-ahead goal the team’s play had warranted.
Mitriță came close to providing a moment of inspiration on 77’ when he weaved into the area through a sea of defenders but his final touch just evaded the goal and the danger was cleared.
Sean Johnson had a quieter night than many expected but he stayed focused and came up big for his team once again on 86’, tipping over a deflected shot which was goalbound.
More late pressure ensued and it was Vargas who found the night’s only goal in stoppage-time, latching onto a loose ball in the box after Johnson had made another save.
The NYCFC defenders claimed offside but the goal stood, meaning City will have work to do in the second leg next Tuesday to overturn the deficit and the away goal.
For more information on New York City FC fans are encouraged to click on the link seen here: