Concacaf Champions League

Pachuca edge out Tigres in fiercely contested CONCACAF Champions League Final

The final of this year’s CONCACAF Champions League (henceforth referred to as simply “CCL”) featured two Mexican Liga MX sides, as has been the case in seven of the last nine CCL finals. Tigres UANL and C.F. Pachuca were the two teams to feature, with Tigres coming in as runners-up in last year’s edition of the CCL, and Pachuca winning the tournament all the way back in 2010.

The first leg of the final took place in Nueva Leon on April 8th at the Estadio Universitario, home ground of Tigres, due to them being the lower seeded of the two teams. The match was a hard-fought affair with seven yellow cards being handed out, five of which went to Tigres players and two to Pachuca players. The first goal was scored right out of the gates in the 3rd minute by Pachuca right-back Raúl López from a deflected free-kick to put Pachuca ahead. Tigres responded in the 32nd minute with a simple goal by Ismael Sosa following an error by Pachuca keeper Alfonso Blanco. Tigres failed to capitalise on a penalty awarded for a handball in the penalty box, and Eduardo Vargas took the penalty but was denied by Pachuca keeper Alfonso Blanco’s brilliant save. The game ended 1-1 with Pachuca taking the away goal advantage to the second leg.

The second leg was held on April 26th at the Estadio Hidalgo, home of Pachuca. This game also saw seven yellow cards, with six of them going to Tigres players. One of those six was a second yellow in the 78th minute that led to the dismissal of Guido Pizarro for a late challenge that saw Pachuca starlet Hirving Lozano upended. Tigres would have to play with ten men for the final eleven minutes of the match. The first and only goal of the match would come five minutes later for Pachuca as Tigres keeper Nahuel Guzman parried a strong shot by Hirving Lozano into the feet of Franco Jara who was able to slot it in. Tigres’ French forward, André-Pierre Gignac, had many well-taken shots throughout the game but was either denied by the woodwork or Pachuca keeper Alfonso Blanco. In the 94th minute, Tigres substitute Eduardo Vargas thought that he had it in, but it was ruled offside by the linesman. The game ended 1-0 with Pachuca winning it all 2-1 on aggregate. This would be the second CCL they have won since it’s reformatting in 2008.

Pachuca players swept the tournament awards, with Alfonso Blanco winning the Golden Glove award for best keeper, Franco Jara winning the Golden Ball for best player, and Hirving Lozano winning both the Golden Boot for most goals, and the Best Young Player award for being the best player under 21.

With this win, Pachuca have claimed a spot in the 2017 FIFA Club World Cup, taking place in December in the United Arab Emirates. They will be joined by the winners of the other five continental competitions around the world, along with the winner of the host nation’s (UAE) top league in a knock-out style tournament.

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