Tigres head coach Robert Siboldi was full of praise for his veteran talisman Andre-Pierre Gignac after he rescued a 1-1 draw with a late free-kick against Vancouver Whitecaps in the Concacaf Champions Cup.
Even though it was only the first leg of the Champions Cup clash with still 90 minutes to be played in the return at the Estadio Universitario, there was enormous pressure on Tigres to leave the game with at least a draw. After all, they are one of Liga MX’s biggest clubs taking on an MLS side that has made strides in recent seasons but aren’t exactly up-to-par with the likes of LAFC and Columbus Crew.
Vancouver’s new signing Damir Kreilach opened the scoring in the 32nd minute, and the Canadian club would hold on to the right up until the end of normal time. The visitors were awarded a free-kick near the edge of the area, a dangerous spot for a player of Gignac’s quality — he’s now up to 203 goals in 365 appearances for Tigres at 38-years-old.
The former Marseille striker stepped up and delivered a picture-perfect strike on goal that went up and over the Vancouver wall, as Yohei Takaoka could do nothing about the hit from the Frenchman.
The Champions Cup still uses the away goals rule, meaning that Tigres could progress to the next phase of the competition with a 0-0 draw in the second leg. However, that’s unlikely to happen as Tigres will not look to mess about in front of their home fans with a trip to the Round of 16 on the line.
“We found ourselves with a goal down, the circumstances were favorable for them, they grouped up very well at the back. They didn’t leave any spaces, it was difficult to penetrate them,” Siboldi said.
“But well, thanks to great genius from Andre, a good mid-range shot from a free kick, we achieved a draw which is good for us.”
Siboldi might event feel a little hard done by the final score, even if he claims that the draw was a good result for his team. His side suffocated the hosts with 67% possession, amassing 17 shots (six on target) to Vancouver’s nine shots (one on target — Kreilach’s goal).
“What can I tell you about Andre? You already know him, I hope you know what he is like, he is a great player, he is gaining pace, he is recovering from a problem he had,” Siboldi continued. “He did preseason but in a previous game against San Luis he had a gastrointestinal problem that cost him a week of not being able to train.
“Little by little he has been returning to his physical aspect. The other day he played for a while…