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Tigres tops Fire to win SuperLiga title
By Orrin Schwarz | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 8/5/2009 10:58 PM | Updated: 8/5/2009 11:23 PM

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Chances to win championships don't come along often, but shootouts are an especially frustrating way to lose.

The Fire lost the SuperLiga final to Tigres UANL 4-3 on penalty kicks after 90 minutes of soccer ended 1-1 Wednesday night in front of 20,000 at sold-out Toyota Park.

Itamar Batista's shot clinched the trophy and $1 million prize for Tigres after Fire substitutes Mike Banner and Justin Mapp missed the net.

"Yes, it's a little unjust, but that's how football is," Fire midfielder Cuauhtemoc Blanco said of the shootout through a team translator.

"When you lose in PKs it's real hard," Fire coach Denis Hamlett added as Tigres players could be heard celebrating in their Toyota Park locker room. "But I can't fault my group. I thought tonight we went out, had a good game plan and made it real difficult for them. (Tigres) had 1 shot on goal and they scored that goal."

The Fire had a significant edge on the stat sheet, outshooting Tigres 16-6 and 7-1 in shots on goal.

The Fire took a quick lead in the 10th minute when forward Patrick Nyarko, making a slicing run through the Tigres penalty area, knocked a glancing header into the net off a Gonzalo Segares cross.

Tigres got the equalizer in the 43rd minute on a nice individual effort by Batista. Batista beat Fire defenders Bakary Soumare and Brandon Prideaux to the touch line, to the right of goalkeeper Jon Busch, cut the ball back and curled a shot off the far post from the corner of the 6-yard box.

The Batista goal changed the way Tigres played.

"I don't think that the second half they came out," said Fire defender C.J. Brown, noting Tigres often kept eight players behind the ball defensively. "I think they were looking to get that tie.

"They knew going to penalty kicks they probably had a good advantage or they felt comfortable being in that. We wanted to win it in regulation obviously."