LEON, Mexico -- An Andre-Pierre Gignac goal sealed a 1-0 victory for Tigres over Leon on Wednesday in the Liga MX Apertura 2016 semifinal first leg.
Here are three takes from the game:
1. Gignac wins battle of strikers against Boselli
There was plenty of quality on display as Tigres took a trip to Leon, but much of the hype before the game was on which striker would win out between France international Andre-Pierre Gignac and La Fiera's Mauro Boselli. Gignac came into the game off the back of a hat trick in the quarterfinal second leg against Pumas, while Argentine Boselli put a slow start to the Apertura behind him to score 10 goals in his last 11 Liga MX games.
In the end, it was Gignac who took the plaudits. The Frenchman scored the winner in the 56th minute to leave Tigres on the brink of the Liga MX final -- a class goal to boot.
Gignac received the ball from Ismael Sosa down the left, moved into the penalty area and cut back onto his right foot. It is a move that Gignac uses regularly, but that defenders still find difficult to combat.
Before then, Gignac had a half-chance to open the scoring in the 11th minute, but in his only real opportunity, the former Marseille striker -- playing against his former coach Javier Torrente's Leon -- made the difference. Tigres pay high wages for arguably the league's best player and moments like Wednesday's goal are exactly why.
Boselli, on the other hand, flashed a header wide in the second half when he looked certain to scored and had a decent chance on his left foot as early as the fifth minute after a fine Leon move.
It is obviously unfair to base a game on one player from each side, but Gignac is now flying and that is not a pretty prospect ahead of Saturday's second leg, or even the potential final.
- Tom Marshall (@mexicoworldcup) December 1, 2016
2. Tigres look like champions as Leon runs out of steam
Three games separate Tigres from the 2016 Apertura title and so far their Liguilla has been almost perfect. It's difficult to see a way back for Leon from here in the semi, considering Tigres' strength at home and the fact that La Fiera will need to score at least twice to advance.
The first half in Estadio Leon was fairly even. There were chances for both sides and Leon pressed high, making it difficult for Tigres to play out from the back. But Tigres also caused problems for Leon, especially down the wings through Javier Aquino and Jurgen Damm.
"We had enough opportunities to score a goal," said Leon coach Torrente after. "They had some counters to increase their lead, but we could've leveled as well."
It was a fair point from Torrente, but the longer the game went on, the more it looked like it would be Tigres to increase their lead. This was Leon's fourth important game in 11 days and with the physical demands of Torrente's high-pressure and intense style, tiredness seemed to creep in as the half wore on.
If there is one negative for Tigres, it is that they couldn't take advantage of their counters late on to increase their lead.
"We are alive," commented Torrente. "We'll make conclusions after the 90 minutes."
It'll have to be a memorable 90 minutes next Saturday if Leon is to reach the Apertura final.
3. Leon, Tigres come together in support of Chapecoense
The football community all over the world has come together to show solidarity with the lives lost Monday evening in the tragic plane crash in Colombia. And the Liga MX has been no different.
Ahead of the Leon against Tigres semifinal, fans held aloft white handkerchiefs and flew them in the air, while chants of "Ole, ole, ole, Chape, Chape" rang out. There was a flag in with the Chapecoense crest in the section reserved for Leon's barra brava, while there was also a banner reading "Forca Chape."
In the center-circle, the Chapecoense club crest was paraded, while players held white roses and linked arms as a one-minute applause rang around Estadio Leon.
It was a nice touch after a difficult couple of days for world football.