Ronaldinho's side came back from two goals down to eke out a 2-2 draw with the Xolos in Tijuana on Thursday night.
Early in the match, a deflected ball hit Ronaldinho in the face and the maestro had to come off briefly for treatment. It was the beginning of an awkward night for last year's runner up in the Brazilian Serie A.
A quarter hour in, a clever free kick found Alfredo Moreno open at the top of the box. Victor shoved his sizzling drive over the bar.
The Xolos kept pressing, with Edgar Castillo missing a key chance. The fullback interchanged with Fidel Martinez at the top of the box after a driving run, and the American overcooked his lob, sending it high and wide.
The breakthrough came after the half hour mark. Former Arsenal man Gilberto Silva slipped on the rubber mulch that passes for turf. Duvier Riascos pounced to poke home at the near post.
To start the second half, Martinez missed an open header a few yards from goal. A minute later, an even easier chance came when Victor could only parry a stiff Moreno shot and it fell to the Ecuadorian in front of goal. Martinez only had to flick the ball into the empty net to double the lead.
The Xolos hadn't conceded a goal at home in the Copa Libertadores all season, four games in total, until Mineiro pulled one back in the 65th minute. The Minas Gerais had scored 19 in the past seven.
Ronaldinho took a corner. At the far post, Diego Tardelli finished, and the assistant raised his flag. Cirilo Saucedo pawed it out after the ball crossed the line, but the goal stood.
As the match ground to a close, it cooled in pace. Then, in stoppage time, the Brazilian side grabbed the crucial away equalizer when Tardelli played substitute Luan through. The ball rolled past Saucedo into the net, likely ending Club Tijuana's run at the quarterfinals.
The second leg is in a week in Brazil.
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