Mexican giants Guadalajara’s 6-0 aggregate defeat of Guatemalan underdogs Comunicaciones in the inaugural CONCACAF Champions’ Cup final in 1962 set the tone for a series of thrashings in the fixture. There was an 8-2 in 1976, a 9-0 three years later, a 6-1 four years after that, and another 8-2 in 1990.
However, by the time Guadalajara re-appeared in the Champions’ Cup decider again in 2007 (they finished as runners-up in 1963 via a concluding group stage), routs had become a thing of the past. Indeed, just one goal had separated the finalists in seven of the past eight instalments of the tie.
With compatriots squaring off in the final for the fifth time in six years, another tight affair was expected between Pachuca and Guadalajara. The first leg followed that script, with the sides drawing 2-2 in Jalisco. Five years ago to this Wednesday, with away goals not in operation, Los Tuzos and Chivas re-encountered in Hidalgo for the second leg.
There, the hosts should have been firmly en route to the first Champions’ Cup final battering in years by half-time. Indeed, with Colombian Andres Chitiva in his creative pomp, Pachuca went in having had 11 corners to their opponents’ none, and a series of attempts on goal. Not one, however, managed to get past Guadalajara goalkeeper Luis Michel, whose inspired night continued in a second half in which the visitors had their own chances but which somehow finished goalless. Ninety minutes had failed to separate the sides. Nor did an additional thirty.
For the first and to date only time in history, penalties would dictate the destination of the Champions’ Cup – and determine which team would represent the region at that December’s FIFA Club World Cup in Japan.
“A world club championship is the most beautiful competition after the World Cup, and we were desperate to make it,” explained Pachuca forward Damian Alvarez. “We should have won it in normal time, but [Michel] had the game of his life. It made for the most intense of atmospheres heading into the shoot-out.”
You wouldn’t have guessed it by the quality of the spot-kicks. Chivas striker Omar Bravo coolly cushioned the first into the roof of the net, before Tuzos No19 Christian Gimenez lashed the ball into the top corner to make it 1-1. The superb penalties continued, and even included the cockiest of Antonin Panenka-esque dinks down the middle by Guadalajara’s Gonzalo Pineda, until the teams were level at 5-5. Finally, though, with the shoot-out poised at 6-6, the 100 per cent conversion rate was ended when Chivas’ Alberto Medina saw his effort crash back off the post.
It left 21-year-old substitute Luis Angel Landin with the chance to win it for Pachuca, which he did by thumping the ball into the roof of Michel’s net. The 2002 winners had finally outlasted Guadalajara to win the tightest final in Champions’ Cup history and seal a trip to the Far East.
“It doesn't get much more dramatic than that!” enthused Landin afterwards. “We really put our fans through it, but the nerves were worth it in the end.”