MEXICO CITY: Mexican giants Club America clinched back-to-back CONCACAF Champions League crowns on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) after coming from behind to beat fellow Liga MX side Tigres 2-1, sealing a 4-1 aggregate victory.
America had been heavy favorites to retain their continental crown and seal their place in this year’s FIFA Club World Cup after a superb 2-0 away victory in last week’s first leg.
But the holders were given a scare towards the end of the first half at the iconic Azteca Stadium when French international Andre-Pierre Gignac rifled in a low shot to give Tigres hope.
The goal lifted Tigres in a first half which threatened to boil over towards the break when an ugly challenge by America’s Rubens Sambueza triggered a prolonged melee that led to four bookings.
Sambueza and team-mate Paul Aguilar were both cautioned for their role along with Tigres goalscorer Gignac and Damian Alvarez.
With tension mounting in the second half, the game swung in America’s favor with the introduction of Ecuadoran international midfielder Michael Arroyo in the 65th minute for Dario Benedetto.
Arroyo did not take long to make his mark and three minutes after coming on scored the equalizer for America.
The 29-year-old surged forward purposefully towards the edge of the area and after feinting to shoot, wrongfooted his marker before unleashing a venomous low shot which kicked up off the turf to beat Argentina international goalkeeper Nahuel Guzman.
The goal left Tigres shattered and needing to score twice more to grab an aggregate victory on away goals.
But any chance of a Tigres fightback was snuffed out in the 86th minute when Hugo Ayala upended Miguel Samudio inside the area.
Paraguayan international Osvaldo Martinez duly rammed home the spotkick as the Azteca Stadium erupted.
Martinez almost put the icing on the cake with a vicious long-range strike which Guzman did well to turn around the post.