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Liga MX Match Recap: Monterrey visit Pachuca and win 1-0

Avilés Hurtado’s goal was enough to see Los Rayados get all three points on their visit to the Estadio Hidalgo

Pachuca v Monterrey - Torneo Apertura 2018 Liga MX Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images

Pachuca’s Estadio Hidalgo hosted the opening Apertura 2018 match for both Monterrey and Pachuca Saturday night as Monterrey grabbed all three points on the road. Monterrey wanted to start the season on a good note after dropping a disappointing loss to Necaxa in the Super Copa played in Los Angeles last Sunday, while Los Tuzos wanted to get one over on their old manager, Diego Alonso, who is now behind the bench for Monterrey.

Monterrey was missing a few key players through injury, as Dorlan Pabón and Rogelio Funes Mori both missed the trip through injury, but Monterrey still felt comfortable as they have perhaps the deepest bench in all of Liga MX. The match also gave former Chivas de Guadalajara star Rodolfo Pizarro and Pumas UNAM Mexico international Jesús Gallardo their debuts for Monterrey.

The first half featured plenty of wasted chances as Los Rayados looked to take the game to Los Tuzos, despite Pachuca being the hosts. New signing Rodolfo Pizarro got an early chance to put the ball on frame, but his cross across the face of the net went wide in the sixth minute.

Sebastián Palacios’s cross-shot in the seventh minute was perhaps the best chance that Los Tuzos had in the first half-hour. His effort went wide past the far post from the right hand side and just in front of a Pachuca player attacking the net, although it did appear that at least one Monterrey defender had the defender covered.

Pizarro went close in the 10th minute for his new club, as his shot on net went inches over the bar, and Avilés Hurtado’s attempted bicycle kick from the top of the box lacked the proper power to challenge the Pachuca keeper.

After a dangerous free kick for Pachuca was wasted in the fifteenth minute, two chances went begging for Monterrey, as an attack that resulted from a cross from the left was flagged for offsides in 23rd minutes and another opportunity from an ill-hit cross in the 28th minute wasn’t able to be controlled.

The best chance for Monterrey in the first half came from a deep cross from the right hand side that picked out Hurtado, but the veteran wasn’t able to get to the ball as it was just out of his reach. A pair of long shots from both teams were saved well as the time ran out on the half.

Monterrey looked the better of the two sides at the half, despite the possession and shots on goal being pretty much even. Both teams went into halftime knowing that the game was there to be won.

Some early pressure in the second half favored Pachuca, and they were rewarded with a corner kick in the 50th minute. A good ball crossed into the area around the penalty spot created a scramble in the box, and Monterrey was lucky that Marcelo Barovero was able get enough of the ball to push it away and prevent a goal.

Jonathan Gonzalez was subbed off in the 57th minute, replaced by Jesús Molina.

Hurtado broke the deadlock in the 64th minute after being denied by a fingertip save in the 63rd minute. Hurtado got free on the right outside the box with the ball at his feet and hit a rocket with his left foot into the far corner, giving Alfonso Blanco, the Pachuca keeper, no chance. The subtle little pause he did right before launching his shot was enough to buy him a half a yard of space and freeze the defender in front of him, clearing a lane for him to shoot the ball into the far corner.

Leonel Vangioni made a brilliant tackle in the 72nd minute to deny a good chance for Los Tuzos, and the defense of Monterrey did a good job shutting Pachuca down, denying chances and blocking shots as Pachuca started to throw men forward to try and draw level. Vangioni was subbed off in the 79th minute for Arturo Gonzalez. Pizarro’s night was also over early, as he was brought off in the 85th minute for young player Cantu.

89th minute, Baravero made a brilliant save to deny Pachuca’s best chance all half to score, as a Pachuca attacker was allowed to build up speed and got a free shot from outside the box. It was one of the few times in the second half that Pachuca was allowed to get a shot on net that wasn’t blocked or had the attacking player immediately closed down, and Pachuca fans will be disappointed that the hard, rising shot was saved.

Monterrey held on through three minutes of stoppage time to hold on to get a good win on the road to open up the Apertura 2018 season. Hurtado’s strike in the 64th minute was enough to take all three points. Monterrey’s defense held fast, despite some good pressure, and after going up by one goal, it always seemed that the team would run out as winners.