LAFC had a chance to win the 2020 Concacaf Champions League final, but a late winner from Andre-Pierre Gignac gave Tigres UANL the continental prize with a 2-1 win Tuesday at Exploria Stadium in Orlando.
In a reversal from LAFC’s previous CCL games, they took the lead in this game, but could not hold on as Tigres scored two unanswered goals to win the game and ultimately the Champions League for the first time.
The only change to the starting XI for LAFC was Latif Blessing entering in place of the suspended Eduard Atuesta. Tigres played an unchanged lineup, even with Gignac and Javier Aquino possible injury doubts coming in (although it was little surprise they were in the game).
It appeared Blessing may have drawn a penalty around the 17th minute after a cagey start by both teams, but the referee waived off the claim and play continued.
Carlos Vela had a free kick in a promising spot moments later, but his effort sailed over the goal.
Midway through the first half, Diego Rossi got on the ball just in front of the box, managed to dribble for space, and let a shot fly, but it too went over the mark and didn’t test Tigres goalkeeper Nahuel Guzman.
The fouls started piling up as halftime approached, with Tigres seeming to get frustrated by LAFC’s ability to stay with them in the game.
The first half ended scoreless, Tigres having the majority of possession but LAFC holding an edge in shots, four to one. Each team had 13 fouls called in the first 45, but the referee was reluctant to start handing yellow cards and there weren’t any.
Mahala Opoku entered the game at halftime for Danny Musovski for LAFC.
The intensity rose in the 2nd half, but it was more even play, both teams getting closer to goal but unable to find a breakthrough. Vela had a counterattack chance early in the 2nd half, but after taking contact his chip attempt was wide of the near post.
LAFC found paydirt in the 61st minute, with Diego Rossi getting set up at the far post by Mark-Anthony Kaye, and his delicate chip blooping inside the goal to give the black-and-gold the lead.
Francisco Ginella entered the game in the 67th minute for LAFC in place of Jose Cifuentes, who had another strong shift.
From there, Tigres took initiative, as expected, and they found the equalizer in the 72nd minute, Hugo Ayala’s header off a corner kick nearly cleared off the line by Mark-Anthony Kaye, but it just squirted through and crossed the line.
After the equalizer, Tigres remained on the front foot and they had better possession, and found their go-ahead tally in the 84th minute, with Andre-Pierre Gignac scoring easily with a one-timer off a feed from Luis Rodriguez.
Brian Rodriguez made his first appearance of this CCL week in the 88th minute, as a desperation sub with Jesus Murillo exiting.
LAFC played well but they faded after their goal, and Tigres’ superiority shined through in the end. I think LAFC can absolutely hold their heads high for a well-played game overall, and they’ll no doubt be disappointed to lose, but they really came incredibly close to winning it all. This loss will sting, but they need to just work to win the next trophy they can.
What a ride in 2020. Thanks to LAFC for putting it on the line, literally, and thanks to everyone for following along this season.
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