Sunday 07 February 2021, 23:47

Gonzalez: Proud Tigres came here for the trophy

  • Carlos Gonzalez signed for Tigres in December to partner Gignac

  • He won the penalty for decisive semi-final goal

  • Gonzalez: "This triumph is for our fans"

When Tigres UANL recruited Carlos Gonzalez in December 2020, the hope was that the Paraguayan front man would form an effective strike partnership with Andre-Pierre Gignac, not least at the imminent FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2020™. It is a tournament with no margin for error and which demands a step-up in quality, something the Mexican side have demonstrably shown.

Gonzalez was unquestionably one of the key figures in the historic 1-0 triumph over Palmeiras in the semi-finals that made Tigres the first Mexican side to win a Club World Cup semi-final in ten attempts.

Moreover, the two previous semi-finals between teams representing CONCACAF and CONMEBOL had gone the way of the South Americans, who had not even conceded a goal. All those sequences finally ended thanks to an inspired performance by Los Felinos, with Gonzalez among their number.

"Here we are, with the stars in the sky shining down on us. We're very proud of what we’ve done, and I imagine there are a few tears among our fans. This triumph is for them," the player nicknamed Charly said at the post-match press conference.

It is true that the 28-year-old centre forward, who was signed from Pumas to deliver goals, was not on target himself against Palmeiras, but only some superlative stops from Weverton prevented that. In the first half, the Brazilian produced one of the saves of the tournament when he parried a bullet of header from close range by the Paraguayan.

Even so, Gonzalez’s contribution in attack was noteworthy, with his role as target man allowing Gignac to drop deeper and focus more on the creative side. Thus, both players managed to pop up unnoticed on more than one occasion and trouble the Verdão defence.

The best example was in the build-up to the penalty that led to the winning goal. Catching Luan off guard, Gonzalez stole a yard on the defender, who had no option to bring him down to prevent a one-on-one with Weverton. Gignac dispatched the resulting spot-kick, and the rest is now history.

"The triumph was down to immense effort. We achieved what we set out to do and are thrilled to be playing in a long-awaited final. Were it not for their keeper, the winning margin could have been greater," added the striker, who spent his early years as a professional in Chile, before moving to Mexico, where he had successful stints with Necaxa and Pumas.

And to think that Gonzalez almost missed the Club World Cup because of a muscle injury picked up in a Mexican league game just the week before his side headed to Qatar. His coach Ferretti did not risk starting him in their opening game against Ulsan Hyundai FC, preferring to bring him on only in the second half.

Now, as you would expect from someone with his personality and infectious energy, he wants to go all the way. "No other Mexican team have gone this far, but now we want more. We came here hoping to lift the trophy and now that we’re close, we’re encouraged and motivated that we can achieve our goal."

Carlos Gonzalez of Tigres UANL looks on during a Post Match Interview