Tigres qualify for FCWC Finals, after victory over Palmerias

Tigres beat Palmerias, becoming the first Concacaf team to reach the finals of the FIFA Club World Cup. This historic moment came right after Andre-Pierre Gignac’s second-half penalty, securing the Mexican side a 1-0 win over Palmerias Sunday. 

Palmerias entered the contest at the Education City Stadium as favorites, but the South American champions were clearly bested by Tigres in an entertainment match. In the final match that is scheduled to take place on Thursday, Ricardo Ferretti’s side will take on the winner of Monday’s second semi-final between Bayern Munich and Al Ahly. 

Palmerias were on the back foot right from the starting as Tigres went close in the third minute. Only a week ago, Palmerias had won the Copa Libertadores title. Luis Rodriguez whipped in a cross from the right and Carlos Gonzales struck a point-blank header but Palmerias’ goalkeeper Weverton dived to his right, making a spectacular save. 

On the eve of the match, South Americans shared their concerns over the threat of Tigres’ striker Gignace and the Frenchman justified the hype around him. Gignac had scored two goals on Thursday in Tigres’ 2-1 win over Asian champions Ulsan Hyundai in their tournament opener. The 35-year-old has been highly successful at the Liga-MX outfit, scoring 144 goals in 244 games since joining on a free transfer in 2015. On Sunday, the former Marseille and French forward was once again a livewire and looked dangerous every time Tigres went on attack. 

In the gap of four minutes, Gignac drew two terrific saves from Weverton. The 32nd minute saw Palmerias goalkeeper tipping Gignac’s curling, goal-bound right-foot shot. After the heroic shot, Weverton once again kept his team from falling out of the game.

Palmerias happened to lose control of the midfield in the last five minutes of the first half with Ze Rafael in particular, having a poor match. But the Brazilians managed to go into the break without conceding. 

Tigres continued pressing Palmerias in the second half, until they were penalized eight minutes after the restart. Luan Garcia bought down a charging Gonzalez in the box with the Paraguayan striker goal-bound. Gignac stepped in to take a penalty and hit a powerful shot into the bottom-left corner even though it brushed Weverton’s gloves. 

In the second half, Palmerias made a double substitution as they brought in Felipe Melo and Patrick de Paula at the 56th minute. A few seconds later, just when the South Americans thought they had equalized when Rony had the ball in the net, the goal was ruled off-side. 

Palmerias struck the Copa Libertadores final against Santos extremely late, earning their place at the global showpiece, pressing for an equaliser as the clock ticked down. And they nearly got one in the 76th minute. After a cross from Willian from the right was flicked by Luiz Adriano, the ball deflected off a Tigres defender, missing the target by less than a meter. 

Palmerias was left with one final chance in the last minute before the stoppage of time. Matias Vina tried a low shot, but the deflected ball went past the post, resulting in a corner as the Tigres went on to create history. 

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