Andre-Pierre Gignac helps Tigres surprise Club America

MEXICO CITY -- French striker Andre-Pierre Gignac's penalty completed an unlikely 2-1 comeback victory for Tigres against Club America in Estadio Azteca in the quarterfinal first leg of the 2019 Apertura Liga MX playoffs on Thursday.

Tigres only had a total of two shots on goal over the 90 minutes, but the reigning Liga MX champions netted through a Gignac penalty and Guido Pizarro header from a corner in the second half.

Club America had looked the better side by far in the first 45 minutes and took the lead when Richard Sanchez struck a shot in off the post from the edge of the area, after Tigres keeper Miguel Ortega -- making his Liga MX debut in the absence of Nahuel Guzman -- palmed away a right-wing cross.

Pizarro sent a well-timed header into goal off the crossbar to equalize in the 51st minute and Gignac then took advantage in the 67th after Javier Aquino was fouled by Sanchez inside the penalty area, although America fans were incensed that a penalty awarded to their team minutes earlier was reversed by VAR.

Both teams set up cautiously at the start, but America gradually took control, with Henry Martin heading over from a Giovani dos Santos cross just after the hour mark, six minutes before Sanchez handed Las Aguilas the lead in front of 45,005 in Estadio Azteca.

Tigres tend to dominate possession in Liga MX games, but opted for a more direct game on Thursday, frustrating America and eventually getting the result.

Tigres did improve in the second half, but America coach Miguel Herrera will be disappointed that his side didn't go into half-time at more that 1-0 up and were reduced mainly to long shots when chasing the late leveler.

Thursday's other quarterfinal first leg saw eight-seed Monterrey take a commanding 5-2 victory over regular season winner Santos Laguna in Estadio BBVA.

Rayados stormed to a 2-0 lead inside 10 minutes through goals from Dorlan Pabon and Nico Sanchez, but Santos responded via Julio Furch and Erick Castillo and the game was 2-2 at half-time.

Monterrey took advantage of some slack Santos Laguna in the second half, however, with Gerardo Arteaga netted an own goal in the 54th and Dutch striker Vincent Janssen slotting in a penalty in the 70th.

Pabon capped the victory with a sublime chip from the edge of the penalty area with five minutes to go.

The return legs of both Thursday's quarterfinals are on Sunday.

In the other quarterfinals on Wednesday, Morelia and Leon tied 3-3, while Necaxa defeated Queretaro 3-0, with those second legs on Saturday.