CF Monterrey and Club Necaxa kicked off their Liga MX Apertura 2018 season today at the Stub Hub Center in Carson, California, usual home of the LA Galaxy. Rayados fans went into the match looking forward to see how former Chivas midfielder Rodolfo Pizzaro would make the transition to Monterrey, while Club Necaxa fans were interested in seeing how their young squad would deal with the experienced team from Nuevo Leon.
And while all of the attention before the match went to Los Rayados and how they would integrate their new stars into their already loaded lineup, it was Los Rayos de Necaxa that wound-up taking home the Supercopa trophy.
The first chance for Los Rayados came on a corner in the 8th minute. Stefan Medina was unmarked at the near post and while Dorlan Pabon found him in plenty of open space, but Medina’s header failed to test the Necaxa keeper Hugo Gonzalez.
After Necaxa had sent a Pabon free kick behind for another corner in the 11th minute, Jesus Molina also had a good chance to score, but his header went over the top of the net. Molina was able to get good power on a header in the box despite being surrounded by a few Necaxa defenders, but his effort on net came only inches from scoring.
Necaxa almost opened the scoring in the 19th minute as Dieter Villalpando put a brilliant shot on net that Marcelo Barovero did very well to stop. The ball went to a Necaxa player in the box, but he wasn’t able to get a shot on net and the Rayados defense did well to get the ball out of the danger areas.
Two minutes later, Necaxa threatened again, but a header from Necaxa went wide of the net and Los Rayados were able to easily recover and send the ball up the pitch.
However, the youth and speed of Necaxa came to their advantage in the 25th minute as a long, searching through ball was played into space behind the Rayados defense, and Necaxa’s Francisco Cordova was able to outrun the defense and slot the ball home past a helpless Barovero.
Most of the attacking efforts from Monterrey came in down the right-hand side as it seemed that Pizzaro, who started on the left, was still trying to find his way with the other Monterrey players. Necaxa also seemed to have one or two defenders close down Pizzaro almost instantly whenever the former Chivas player got the ball anywhere near the box, taking away his opportunities to shoot the ball and force him to either pass the ball or take an unwise shot.
Avilés Hurtado finally got a chance to run at the Necaxa defense with the ball at his feet in the 43rd minute, but a extremely well-timed tackle from Brayan Beckeles stopped the forward from getting a clear opportunity, and Necaxa were able to once again gain control of the ball.
Pizzaro’s first clear, open shot on net came in stoppage time of the first half, as he was able to get free in the box off of a headed ball from a corner kick, but his effort on the volley was always rising and sent over the net.
Molina was subbed off at half-time for Jonathan Gonzalez, who won the Liga MX rookie of the year award in the LIga MX’s Balon de Oro ceremony that was held in Los Angeles Saturday night.
Aviles Hurtado got free in the 59th minute after a long ball over the top found him alone in the box. Gonzalez got a mitt to Hurtado’s chipped attempt on goal, and Hurtatdo lost his balance and was not able to get a follow up shot on what would have been a tap-in to a empty net.
Luis Madrigal came in for Jorge Benitez in the 60th minute after Jose Basanta had seen yellow for appearing to catch a Necaxa player in the mouth with his arm. Pabon took a free kick from a dangerous area in the 65th minute, but it was all for naught once again, as his free kick went through the wall but went far wide right of the net.
After a hydration break in the 70th minute, Edson Gutierrez came in for Stefan Medina as Rayados looked to try and get back into the match.
Necaxa almost doubled their lead in the 82nd minute after a scramble in the box, a Necaxa player got a clean shot on net that bent towards the far post, but the ball went agonizingly wide.
Nico Sanchez earned a yellow card in the 85th minute for a foul just outside of the Monterrey box, but Cordova’s shot off of the resulting free kick was wide and easily handled by Barovero.
A tired looking Hurtado put a shot on net in the beginning of stoppage time, and Los Raydos had a number of shots on target, all of which were blocked by the Necaxa defenders, after Pabon had put a shot/cross into a dangerous area from the left-channel of the box.
Some glorious time wasting was done by the Nexaca players in stoppage time as Monterrey tried desperately to get back into the match. Los Rayados were reduced to lumping balls into the box for the final few minutes, but were unable to get anything out of the match while the underdog Rayos de Necaxa will go home as the 2018 Supercopa Champions.