Tigres wins first title in 29 years

UANL Tigres are the champions of Mexico’s Apertura 2011 championship after defeating Santos Laguna 3-1 at home on Sunday to complete a 4-1 victory over two legs.

Chilean Hector Mancilla, Brazilian Danilinho and Alan Pulido scored for Tigres, which won their third title and their first for 29 years.

Santos had two players sent off, while Tigres ended the game with 10 men.

Tigres won the away leg 1-0 on Thursday and their chances of claiming the title were boosted further when Santos, runners-up in three of the past four finals, went down to ten men in the 12th minute when former Mexico national team goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez was sent off.

Sanchez slid out to close down Danilinho inside the penalty area, but brought the Tigres player down on a wet, slippery pitch, after Danilinho had passed the ball to his left.

However Lucas Lobos’ penalty was saved by substitute goalkeeper Miguel Becerra, who dived low to his right.

Santos scored in the 31st, against the run of play, and levelled the tie on aggregate when a low cross from the left was pulled back by Jose Maria Cardenas and Mexico international Oribe Peralta tapped in from short range.

It was the first goal Tigres had conceded in the playoffs.

Argentine Lobos thought he had scored for Tigres in the 38th when he had the ball in the net with an athletic overhead kick, but the referee disallowed it, judging that Lobos’ foot was too high and there was contact with a defender’s head.

Chilean Hector Mancilla got the equalizer on the night and the go-ahead goal on aggregate for Tigres in the 57th, after keeper Becerra left his goal to claim a looped cross, but was left stranded as Mancilla beat him to it and headed in.

Danilinho made it 2-1, and 3-1 on aggregate, in the 63rd with a right-footed shot driven inside Becerra’s near post.

Five minutes later, Santos’ Felipe Baloy was sent off for a late tackle on Lobos, while Tigres player Israel Jimenez also received a red card for an altercation following Baloy’s dismissal.

The final goal came three minutes from time, when Alan Pulido was left a simple finish after being set up by Danilinho.

Guadalajara finished the regular season in first place and were favorites for the championship going into the playoffs, but they went out in the quarterfinals against Queretaro.

Previous champions UNAM Pumas failed to qualify for the playoffs.

The new season begins on January 6.