'We finally won that f*cking cup!' - Legendary Gignac leads Tigres to CONCACAF Champions League title

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Andre-Pierre Gignac Tigres 2020
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Having lost three finals in four years, the Mexican giants finally tasted continental success while teaching LAFC a familiar lesson

No matter how much things change, some things remain the same.

Even in 2020, amid the chaos that has come during this mess of a year, some things go to script.

In the CONCACAF Champions League, those scripts follow a familiar pattern. There are different casts, different characters, sure, but, in the end, we know how this story goes.

It always ends with a triumphant crowning of a Liga MX outfit and a familiar feeling of "better luck next time" for the underdog MLS foe that lies vanquished at their feet.

This story once again played out on Tuesday, even if the road to this ending was unlike any we have seen before. 

Having defeated Leon, Cruz Azul and Club America to book a place in their first CONCACAF Champions League final, Los Angeles FC fell short just like all those MLS teams that came before them.

In the end, Tigres stood tall, led by their superstar striker Andre-Pierre Gignac, as Liga MX's reign of dominance over the continental competition proved too sturdy for even 2020 to undo.

It is a familiar feeling for MLS clubs, who have yet to capture this trophy in the 12 years since the competition was reconfigured.

And it was a familiar feeling for those watching on from Mexico, who once again saw a Liga MX club earn their rightful place as kings of CONCACAF.

But Tigres, a club that has been among Mexico's best for a handful of years, know that feeling of failure all too well themselves. Tuesday's final appearance was their third in four seasons and, in each of the previous three, they felt that sting of defeat.

Despite all of their domestic successes - and there have been plenty of them in recent years - this tournament, in particular, had haunted them.

“People can look at a glass any way they want," their legendary head coach Tuca Ferretti told CONCACAF.com after booking their spot in the final by crushing an overmatched Olimpia on Saturday. 

"Some see it half-full; others see it half-empty. For me, I see it as being glass half-full, but people might criticize and say it is half-empty because we have lost the three finals that we have played prior to this.

Tigres Concacaf Champions League GFX

"And many people say that we are not interested in this CONCACAF tournament. If we weren’t interested, we wouldn’t have reached so many finals.”

There was to be no heartbreak on this night, not for this team. The fourth time, so it happens, was the charm.

"Finally," Gignac said moments after the match with a hearty exhale. "We finally won that f*cking cup."

For much of the match, it did not feel like this result was coming. For long periods it looked like LAFC's night, one that could finally turn the tide in this interleague rivalry.

Gignac, who entered the game with a knock, looked a step off. Tigres, a team normally so composed on the ball, seemed slow and sloppy. And LAFC, a team that had overcome a Liga MX gauntlet just to get here, looked like a team that knew it could win this game.

When Diego Rossi chipped in an opening goal for LAFC midway through the second half, LAFC appeared well on their way. The MLS club had controlled the play against a sluggish Tigres and, finally, they had their reward.

But then came the familiar sequence that led to the familiar result. It began with Hugo Ayala's set-piece goal just 11 minutes after Rossi's opener, and it was from that moment that Tigres began to look like Tigres.

And, when his team needed him most, their star stepped up.

Of course it was Gignac, a player that will almost certainly go down as one of the most accomplished this region has ever seen, who fired the tournament-winning goal in the 84th minute.

Andre-Pierre Gignac Tigres Segura LAFC Concacaf Champions League GFX

It was a goal that sealed the Golden Boot and Most Valuable Player awards for the French star, yet another pair of accolades for a player that has racked up quite a few since arriving in Mexico in 2015.

The goalscorers, in the end, were fitting. Ayala, the player who has worn the Tigres shirt more than any other player, and Gignac, the player who has scored the most goals in club history, lifted Tigres to a win that will go down in club history. Second best no more; Tigres are now truly champions.

Tuesday's win was a statement for Tigres, a team that has now truly earned their place among the best in this region. In February, they will have the chance to take things a step further when they join the likes of Bayern Munich at the FIFA Club World Cup.

Monterrey gave Liverpool all they could handle the last time that tournament was held, and who says Tigres cannot do the same when they get their chance to play on that stage?

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As for LAFC, there is always next time. This one will haunt them, just like Tigres' trio of losses certainly haunted their club in recent years. They played well enough to win, and perhaps on another night they would have.

Perhaps LAFC can learn something from this defeat, just like Tigres learned from theirs, and play their part in breaking this seemingly never-ending cycle of Liga MX dominance.

In the end, to cap off the craziest version of this region's craziest competition, Tigres got the storybook ending they have long deserved.

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