Tigres were made to suffer but eventually came through to defeat Club Leon 2-1 on Saturday to advance to the Liga MX final 3-2 on aggregate.
Here are three thoughts from a tense night at Estadio Universitario:
1. Tigres hold on
The consistency and sheer depth of quality that Tigres possess have led the Northern Mexican team to a Liga MX final for the third consecutive December.
They were the heavy favorites to go through after the 1-0 victory away at Estadio Leon last Wednesday, but coach Ricardo "Tuca" Ferretti -- who is nearing 1,000 Liga MX matches on the bench -- will have gone through a roller coaster of emotions during the 90 minutes.
A fine Luis Montes strike from outside the box in the 17th minute made Tigres extremely nervous and fed confidence to Leon's players. At no point from there, until Lucas Zelarayan's winner in the 78th minute, did Tigres appear comfortable.
Another bit of genius from Andre-Pierre Gignac right on the stroke of half-time eased nerves, but the fluency and intensity of a Tigres side that hammered Pumas 5-0 in the quarterfinal a week ago was simply not there on Saturday.
It's difficult to be overly critical considering Tigres' Liguilla performances to date have been almost perfect, but for a side so full of talent, there is always the feeling that Tigres will give opponents chances. Tigres will be favorite in the final whether Necaxa or Club America goes through, but Ferretti will want to see a better performance than the team displayed on Saturday.
It was more a case of job done than Tigres being very impressive.
2. Brave Leon unlucky not to record historic result
Leon went 11 games without defeat under coach Javier Torrente, but lost its last three and slid out of the playoffs. That statistic, however, doesn't really tell the full tale of Saturday's match.
Leon had 57 percent possession against Liga MX's most possession-orientated side, had 14 shots to Tigres' 12 and took 10 corners to the home side's three. Leon was the better side on the night and the game could've gone a very different way but for a couple of key decisions.
TV replays showed Gignac's equalizer was slightly offside. And a Leon goal in the 61st minute looked like it should have stood, but the officials ruled it out because they thought the ball had gone out of play. As Torrente said after the match, these games are decided by tight margins and Leon lost out on two crucial decisions. The debate about video replays will have to wait, but Leon's frustration was understandable.
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"I'm proud of the team and players for the game they played," said Torrente, who openly acknowledged that Gignac's goal came from a "refereeing error."
The future, however, looks bright for Leon, with Torrente's attacking and vertical style popular with both the fans and the players. A couple of incisive winter signings should see the team from Guanajuato challenging again in the 2017 Clausura.
3. Liga MX superstar Gignac continues ascent
At one point in the second half, Gignac was battling near the right-back spot for the ball with Leon left winger Hernan Burbano. The Frenchman seemed to be everywhere for Tigres. And while attacking teammates like Ismael Sosa and Jurgen Damm were a little off, Gignac was again a step above.
The Tigres striker's goal may have been offside, but the way he slithered through, cut inside, paused and then tapped the ball past William Yarbrough as if he wasn't there was brilliant. You almost know he is going to cut inside, but even experienced defenders like Guillermo Burdisso can't seem to get near him.
Then there was the celebration sending the Tigres bench to sleep, a hat tip to hypnotist John Milton, who has been helping Gignac with the mental side of the game.
It's five goals in three games now for Gignac, but his overall game has also been inspired. He has become the leader of the Tigres side, and it'd be no surprise at all if the French forward is also the main figure in the final, either this coming week (against Necaxa) or on Dec. 22 and Dec. 25 (if it is versus Club America).