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Tigres battle back to defeat Chivas and win Clausura 2023 title

Siboldi’s team came back from being 2-0 down just 20 minutes into the game.

Chivas v Tigres UANL - Final Torneo Clausura 2023 Liga MX Photo by Refugio Ruiz/Getty Images

Tigres came back from 2-0 down to get a 3-2 victory in extra time over Chivas and become Liga MX champions of the Clausura 2023. Chivas took a solid lead after being clearly superior in the first half, but sat back too early, added to some bad substitutions, and Tigres took command of the match and never let up until going down to 10 players. Tigres now win their 8th Liga MX title and climb all the way to 5th place in this category along with Club León, while Chivas fail to tie América for the most Liga MX titles and continue be 2nd to the Águilas with 12.

Chivas’ starting 11 saw them return to having a center forward with Ronaldo Cisneros. Tigres had injured defender Samir back on the bench, but not in the starting 11. The visitors had the first chance when a cross fell to Diego Lainez, but his volley went right to the hands of Chivas’ goalkeeper Miguel Jimenez. From way outside the area, Javier Aquino got off a long-range shot that forced Jimenez to make a save. Then, against the run of play, Roberto Alvarado was given the time to get off a great left-footed shot in the area that went past Tigres’ goalkeeper Nahuel Guzman for the opening goal that gave Chivas the 1-0 lead. While the TV broadcast showed Andre Pierre Gignac scolding Diego Reyes after the play, it was Rafael Carioca who made the coverage and just froze when the shot came. After a cross into the area, Gignac had a wide open chance to head the ball from close range, but his header went wide in what was a bad miss. Then, off the corner kick, Victor Guzman appeared wide open to volley the ball past the other Guzman (keeper) for the goal that gave Chivas the 2-0 lead.

After the ball was lowered in the area by Gignac, Sebastian Cordova got a left-footed shot that went wide. After Chivas lost the ball, a Tigres counter almost had Gignac going 1 vs. 1, but Gilberto Sepulveda made an incredible saving sliding tackle that looked to have injured the French striker. After a ball went well wide, Luis Quiñones incredibly decided to kick the ball straight to Chivas’ bench, causing a scuffle and earning himself a boneheaded yellow card. The halftime whistle blew soon after and Chivas took a strong lead to the dressing room.

The second half started with Diego Lainez and Juan Pablo Vigon being subbed out for Nicolas Lopez and Fernando Gorriaran. Needing goals, Tigres went on the offense from the start as Chivas looked for the counter. Tigres missed an incredible opportunity when Cordova crossed the ball in the area and found Lopez, but he failed to connect clearly with it inches from the line. The ball fell to Gignac and his shot was deflected into the arms of Jimenez in what was Tigres’ best chance of the night. Chivas subbed out Alexis Vega and Ronaldo Cisneros for Pavel Perez and Isaac Brizuela. Then, a cross into the area looked to be handled by Antonio Briseño after Cordova headed the ball and a PK was given. Tigres continued to look for goals and subbed out Jesus Garza for Nicolas Ibañez. Andre Pierre Gignac stepped up to take the PK and with a strong right-footed shot that went past Jimenez and cut the lead to 2-1. Chivas had sat back too early and allowed Tigres into the match.

Off a corner kick, Cordova was able to get a half bicycle kick that Jimenez was able to make a great save on. Then, a cross into the area had Sebastian Cordova get past a terrible Alan Mozo effort, who allowed him to head from close range past Jimenez to tie the match at 2-2. A pass in the area later found Fernando Beltran and his shot forced Guzman to make a save. On the ensuing corner kick, Victor Guzman got a great header that forced an even better save from Nahuel Guzman. There was a possible 2 vs 1 for Tigres, but Mozo got there just in time to clear the ball. Mozo himself fired a shot from outside the area that Guzman struggled to save. Tigres and Chivas battled for the final goal, but the game ultimately headed to extra time.

Extra time started with Tigres subbing out a gassed Rafael Carioca for Samir. A cross that was headed into the area almost found Ibañez, but he failed to connect with it. A cross into the area went past a couple of wide open Tigres players, but they all missed the opportunity. Chivas subbed out Pavel Perez, Alan Mozo and Ruben Gonzalez for Daniel Rios, Jesus Sanchez and Sergio Flores. There was a clash in the area between Ibañez and Gilberto Sepulveda, in which Ibañez later started a scuffle, claiming an elbow to the face that replays showed never happened. A shot from outside the area by Ibañez was bounced by Jimenez into the path of Gignac, who then returned his shot back into Jimenez, in an awful missed chance. Minutes later, Quiñones got off a left-footed shot that hit the post. Tigres clearly ended the match stronger than a Chivas team who were feeling all the pressure.

The second extra time started as both teams looked to try to win it and avoid a PK shootout. After being pushed, Javier Aquino milked out the injury up to a minute. Then, off a corner kick, the ball bounced and Cordova got a header that Victor Guzman cleared off the line before it fell to Guido Pizarro, who got a header that bounced off Sergio Flores and into the net for the go ahead goal that gave them the 3-2 lead. Chivas tried to respond, but the ball fell to Jesus Orozco, whose shot went wide. After handling a ball on the ground with his hand to stop a Chivas attack, Sebastian Cordova received his second yellow card and thus a red, leaving Tigres with 10 players. With the man advantage, Chivas went looking for the final goal. After many futile attempts, Gilberto Sepulveda committed a foul that earned him a second yellow as well that sent Chivas down to 10 players. It was the end at that point as Tigres secured their eighth title.

Siboldi’s squad surprised most viewers as they came into the final as underdogs, especially after Chivas got a 0-0 draw away in the first leg. Even more so, the sold out ecstatic crowd from Chivas’ fans seemed to have imposed itself on Tigres as El Rebaño took a huge 2-0 lead by the time the halftime whistle had blown. And despite Veljko Paunovic being praised all throughout the Liguilla, he’s receiving lots of criticism for having the team sit back from the start of the second half on. Worse yet, his substitutions failed to pay off, especially Isaac Brizuela who had a terrible performance and Pavel Perez, who was even substituted in extra time. Tigres took advantage and Sebastian Cordova proved to be the MVP of the postseason, scoring a goal in every round of the playoffs (including both goals in the semifinals).

Tigres’ coach Robert Dante Siboldi returned to the team where he had played as goalkeeper to win his second Liga MX title after winning in 2018 with Santos Laguna. A team that ex-coach Miguel Herrera had deemed “too old” won the title even with a struggling Gignac. On the other hand, Chivas suffered one of the worst losses a week after one of the greatest. If losing a final to Tigres isn’t a terribly unexpected result, the way they did is. After a scoreless tie in Monterrey and then having a 2-0 lead at home at halftime, losing control of the match and allowing a comeback to a Tigres team that didn’t have a great regular season is considered a bad loss. On top of that, the fact that unlike Tigres, Chivas don’t play as many finals. This was Chivas first final since their last title in Clausura 2017, when they defeated Tigres. Since that final, Tigres had won two more Liga MX titles and now their third.

All in all, Chivas had a good season, but after a liguilla where it had beaten its two biggest rivals, they fell in the final round. On the other hand, Tigres lived up to expectations in a chaotic season where they lost their first coach, Diego Cocca, to the National team and then had to fire Marco Antonio Ruiz, after a disastrous short spell and yet in the end, they are champions once again.