Fans of UANL Tigres celebrating. Tigres take on Santos Laguna in the Mexican Primera Division's 2011 Apertura Liguilla final on Thursday, December 8, 2011.

Santos Laguna Vs. UANL Tigres, 2011 Apertura Liguilla Final: Tigres Defeat Ten-Man Santos 1-0

An early goal by Damian Alvarez and red card to Juan Pablo Rodriguez seems to have put this final to bed before it could really even get going

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8 Total Updates since December 8, 2011
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Santos Laguna Vs. UANL Tigres Live, 2011 Apertura Liguilla Final: Full Time, Tigres Go Home With Lead

For the first 22 minutes of the first leg, the 2011 Apertura Liguilla final was living up to the hype. Santos Laguna and UANL Tigres were playing a fantastic match, with Tigres scoring early on the road but Santos pressing hard for an equalizer. It was exciting football, and it was impossible to tell what would happen next. Then, Juan Pablo Rodriguez went and got himself sent off. No more goals would come after that, with Tigres winning the first leg 1-0 in Torreon.

Damian Alvarez's 7th minute goal was spectacular. After picking up a ball from Hector Raul Mancilla, he picked the defense apart with a spectacular dribbling move before shooting past Oswaldo Sanchez from a narrow angle. Oribe Peralta almost equalized with a 15th minute shot off the crossbar, then Lucas Lobos almost doubled the lead when he forced a save out of Sanchez in the 22nd. It was fantastic play, with everything one might want out of a final.

Then, in the 23rd minute, Rodriguez delivered a kick to the groin of Manuel Viniegra. He was sent off, and deservedly so. Tigres seemed very content with their lead and holding onto it from that point on, while Santos subbed off Darwin Quintero at halftime.

The Saints appeared to have more of the possession and the better of the chances in the second half, but they were hardly real chances. As always, Tigres knew how to sit on their lead and produce a shutout. They have not allowed a goal in any of their five Liguilla games and will now head to Monterrey with a 1-0 lead. Santos will have to overturn that deficit in front of what is arguably the best crowd in Mexican football, without their best ball winner, in a place where Tigres have not lost this season.

For more on the Liguilla final and Mexican football in general, check out SB Nation's Mexican futbol blog FMF State Of Mind.

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Santos Laguna Vs. UANL Tigres Live, 2011 Apertura Liguilla Final: Halftime Score, Tigres Up 1-0 And In Control

There are only 45 minutes gone from 180 minutes in the Mexican Primera's 2011 Apertura Liguilla Final, but this one appears to be very close to over. It's going to take a miracle for Santos Laguna to get back into this match, as they've already had a man sent off and given up a goal to UANL Tigres, who lead 1-0 at halftime. Damian Alvarez scored the goal, and it was an absolute beauty.

In the 7th minute, Hector Raul Mancilla laid off a ball for Alvarez, who dribbled through the defense and broke the ankles of Jorge Estrada with his moves. Eventually, he got himself into a position to shoot from a narrow angle and put a shot past Oswaldo Sanchez to put his team ahead.

Oribe Peralta almost got one back for the Saints in the 15th minute, rattling the crossbar with an absolutely stunning shot from 25 yards. That would be the Saints' best chance for a while, and they were a bit lucky not to allow another. Sanchez was forced into a spectacular save in the 22nd minute, parrying away a great free kick by Lucas Lobos.

Less than a minute after that, Juan Pablo Rodriguez got himself sent off for a terrible foul on Manuel Viniegra. While going for a ball around Viniegra's waste level, he missed the follow through and delivered a swift kick to the groin of Viniegra with his studs, giving the referee no choice but to show a red card.

Santos surprisingly looked decent with ten men, with Darwin Quintero missing a golden opportunity to pull his team level just before the halftime whistle, but were unable to find a goal. With ten men against Mexico's top defense, Santos are going to need Peralta and Quintero to pull a goal or two out of nothing to keep this tie alive heading to Monterrey.

For more on the Liguilla final and Mexican football in general, check out SB Nation's Mexican futbol blog FMF State Of Mind.

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Santos Laguna Vs. UANL Tigres Live, 2011 Apertura Liguilla Final: Juan Pablo Rodriguez Sent Off For Saints

Santos Laguna were already down a goal to UANL Tigres at home in the 2011 Apertura Liguilla final, and their task just got a whole lot harder. Star defensive midfielder and former Mexican international Juan Pablo Rodriguez has been shown a straight red card for the Saints in the 24th minute, and it was a well deserved red.

While going for a ball around the waist-level of Manuel Viniegra of Tigres, Rodriguez missed horribly. Instead of getting the ball, his foot ended up in the general vicinity of Viniegra's groin. He then followed through with his kick, appearing to intentionally put his studs into the groin of Viniegra. The referee didn't hesitate to show a red and the protest was minimal, at least compared to the usual harassment of referees in Mexican football.

Santos are now not only down a man and down a goal, but without their best ball winner for the rest of this game and the second leg. They're going to need a miracle to get out of this match without going down further.

For more on the Liguilla final and Mexican football in general, check out SB Nation's Mexican futbol blog FMF State Of Mind.

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Santos Laguna Vs. UANL Tigres Live, 2011 Apertura Liguilla Final: Damian Alvarez Puts Tigres Up

UANL Tigres have taken a lead on Santos Laguna after just six minutes in the 2011 Apertura Liguilla final, and Damian Alvarez is the man who has his side ahead. Tigres' attack was respectable for the large period of time in which Alvarez was injured - including the last time these teams met - but they've been taken to a completely different level with him back in the team in Liguilla. He's continued his fantastic run of form with an early goal, and Santos now have their backs against the wall.

Hector Raul Mancilla provided the assist with some solid back to goal play and a good layoff, but the goal was scored mostly due to a spectacular individual effort. Alvarez made Santos right back Jorge Estrada look downright silly on the goal, turning him inside out a good three times before putting the ball into the far corner, past the legendary Oswaldo Sanchez from a narrow angle.

Estrada, Sanchez, and central defender Santiago Hoyos all could have done better on the goal, but there's no taking away from Alvarez. The goal was downright brilliant.

For more on the Liguilla final and Mexican football in general, check out SB Nation's Mexican futbol blog FMF State Of Mind.

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Santos Laguna Vs. UANL Tigres Live, 2011 Apertura Liguilla Final: Expected Lineups

Wondering why the headline above says 'expected lineups' and not just 'lineups'? Because this is Mexican football and nothing is ever set in stone. These lineups come via the Mexican football federation, and yet they still cannot be trusted as 100 percent accurate. If you're not already sold on the potential entertainment value of the unpredictable and outrageous nature of FMF, I'm not sure what to tell you. Tonight is the first leg of the 2011 Apertura Liguilla playoff final between Santos Laguna and UANL Tigres. Here are the expected lineups.

Santos Laguna Lineup (4-4-2): Sanchez; Estrada, Hoyos, Baloy, Ibañez; Suarez, Salinas, Rodriguez, Ludueña; Quintero, Peralta

UANL Tigres Lineup (4-4-1-1): Palos; Torres Nilo, Ayala, Juninho, Jimenez; Alvarez, Viniegra, Salcido, Danilinho; Lobos; Mancilla

Kickoff is at 9:30 pm ET. You can catch the game on Telefutura in the USA.

For more on the Liguilla final and Mexican football in general, check out SB Nation's Mexican futbol blog FMF State Of Mind.

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