Nomads Alumni Joe Corona put in a full shift at midfield for the Xoloitzcuintles

Nomads Alumni Joe Corona put in a full shift at midfield for the Xoloitzcuintles and grabbed a yellow card in the process as Tijuana salvaged a 1-1 draw against ex-MLSer Cuauhtémoc Blanco and Irapuato in the first leg of the Mexican Liga de Ascenso final on Wednesday.

Tijuana’s Estadio Caliente lived up to its name, as temperatures soared during gametime. Still, that didn’t keep the two finalists from putting on a show.

Irapuato took the early lead just seven minutes in, when forward José Cruz got past Corona and another defender in the final third and served in a ball for Luis Valdés, who turned and struck for the 1-0.

The goal set the tone and each side sent numbers forward, threatening to score on numerous occasions.

Tijuana finally knocked in the equalizer in the 60th minute, when Raúl Enríquez re-centered a deflected corner kick into Irapuato’s box and onto the head of Alejandro Molina. The forward rose above the opposing back line and redirected the ball to the back of the net.

Xolos finished off the encounter down a man when starting holding midfielder Gerardo Galindo was sent off with a straight red card after a late tackle on Blanco in the 86th minute.

Tijuana and Irapuato will now settle the series in los Freseros’ Estadio Sergio León Chávez on Saturday.