The hype surrounding this year’s Liga MX final reached absurd new heights this year, as some diehard Chivas fans waited up to 37 hours for tickets to see their club face off against Tigres UANL. With no showers or bathroom in sight, these fans began lining up shortly after Chivas drew with Tocula 1-1 on Sunday for their chance at grabbing tickets to the two-leg finale, which were released Tuesday morning.
Equipped with a folding chair, there was no way 21-year-old Chivas fan, Diego Gonzalez was going to miss his team’s chance at their first title in the last decade. Speaking to El Diario, Gonzalez said that “we slept two nights, we were here all Monday, but it was worth it. The tickets are already in my hands, we will be in the final and we will go for the championship.”
The first leg of the Clausura 2017 final, taking place in the Monterrey metropolitan area on Thursday, made sure to disappoint neither those who waited nor those who watched on TV. The two teams came into the final on different ends of the spectrum. Winners of the last two Apertura titles, Tigres had been absolutely dominant during the Liguilla playoffs, breezing through the opening two rounds on a 10-1 aggregate. Chivas, on the other hand, backed into the final advancing through the quarter- and semi-finals on tiebreakers, while winning just one of their last nine league matches.
So it was therefore surprising to see Chivas in control of the game throughout the first 84 minutes. The Guadalajara side was able to press and create scoring opportunities early, forcing Tigres goalkeeper Nahuel Guzman into a few great saves. Chivas eventually broke through in the 23rd minute for the 1-0 lead through Alan Pulido, before making it 2-0 in the 46th via Rodolfo Pizarro.
Surely, Chivas was on its way to a miracle that would validate the long wait for tickets and the longer wait for a trophy, but Tigres’ star man, Andre-Pierre Gignac, had other ideas. Scoring twice in the last three minutes, including this incredible equalizer, Gignac evened the playing field, and now Chivas must attempt to win their first title since the Apertura 2006 at home on Sunday.
After the game, Chivas coach, Matias Almeyda couldn’t help but admire Gignac’s effort. “It’s down to his ability. The second goal is the kind a different kind of player scores. There were a few mistakes on that second goal, but his finishing was impeccable. His finishing was really impeccable.”
The French star, who has become a fan favorite in Mexico since coming over in 2015, has now scored nine goals in six matches this May. If Chivas wants anything to do with their first title in 10 years, they’ll have to find a way to stop Gignac from running rampant all over the Estadio Chivas on Sunday.