Hector Mancilla, Danilinho and Alan Pulido scored unanswered goals to help Tigres win the championship for the first since 1982
After nearly 30 years of hurt, Tigres UANL fans have plenty to celebrate.
The Monterrey-based side claimed its first Mexican championship since 1982 on Sunday evening, coming back to defeat visiting Santos Laguna 3-1, giving them a 4-1 aggregate win in the Apertura 2011 final.
Though Oribe Peralta gave 10-man Santos the lead on the half hour, second-half goals from Hector Mancilla, Danilinho and Alan Pulido ensured there would be no heroics for Santos, appearing in its third final in four years.
Santos saw another man sent off in the second half, along with a Tigres player, as the game finished with 19 players on the field.
Tigres coach Tuca Ferretti continued to stick with the charges that had seen his team go the entire playoff race without conceding a goal. On the other hand, Santos coach Benjamin Galindo had plenty of tweaking to do, as he had to do without two of his most influential midfield players, the injured Daniel Ludueña and suspended Juan Pablo Rodriguez.
The game kicked off in frantic fashion, with Tigres looking stronger in the early minutes. After holding possession well, the early pressure should have paid off in a big way for the home side with little over 10 minutes played.
As Tigres forward Danilinho shaped up to shoot, he was challenged by Santos goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez, who impeded the Brazilian and was shown a straight red card for denying a goalscoring opportunity. However, Lucas Lobos was denied from the penalty spot by a good save from substitute goalkeeper Manuel Becerra.
Tigres continued to play in a similar style as they looked for the goal that could put some significant distance between themselves and Santos, but came up against a resilient Santos back line.
Despite playing a man down in one of the most difficult venues in Mexico, Santos showed some life on the half-hour mark as it leveled things on aggregate. Peralta broke Tigres goalkeeper Enrique Palos' streak of 615 minutes without conceding a goal to an end, positioning himself well to finish off a good attacking move by the visitors.
The goal proved a rare lapse for an otherwise dominant Tigres team in the first half, but Santos continued to defend capably. Santos caught a break when Lobos had a goal ruled out for dangerous play, but its defense ensured it would go into the break with a 1-0 lead on the night.
Tigres started the second half with a spell of early pressure, much like the first. Unlike the opening period, however, they were duly rewarded for their efforts under 10 minutes into the half. Jorge Torres Nilo floated a ball into the area and Mancilla showed great anticipation to rise above center back Santiago Hoyos and turn the ball home.
Not long after, the home side nearly got a second in similar fashion, with Mancilla again the target. However, Becerra got enough to turn it onto the post, and Felipe Baloy cleared before any of the lurking Tigres players.
The home team put the game beyond doubt soon after the hour as Danilinho ran past Baloy and onto a through pass from Lobos, striking it low and hard at goal. Becerra got a hand to it, but it was not enough to turn it away, and Tigres looked on their way to a long-awaited title.
Tigres could have piled on the misery for Santos as they continued pushing forward after the goal, and only some fortunate bounces in the Santos area and quick reactions from Becerra prevented Mancilla from poking home his second.
Things took an uglier turn on 69 minutes, as a challenge from Baloy right in front of the benches sparked plenty of heated reactions and two red cards. Baloy was ejected for his challenge, as he left his foot high going in on Lobos, and Tigres' Israel Jimenez was also expelled for his role in the fracas.
Tigres were better equipped to take advantage of the space that the three second half red cards offered, and continued threatening to add to their lead. Pulido and Dainilinho took advantage of the holes in Santos' defense, with a quick interchange seeing the Brazilian square for Pulido, who finished easily, sending the Estadio Universitario into raptures.
Not long after, referee Marco Antonio Rodriguez blew the whistle on a thrilling encounter, with the cold and rainy conditions failing to put a damper on the jubilant celebrations from Tigres players and fans.