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Match Recap: Monterrey defeats Club Leon 2-0 after controversial refereeing decisions

Leon played with 10 men for over an hour and Monterrey were awarded a penalty in the second half

Monterrey v Puebla - Torneo Clausura 2018 Liga MX Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images

Monterrey defeated Club Leon 2-0 Sunday night at the Nou Camp in Leon to continue their unbeaten and clean sheet streak to start the season. The return of Rogelio Funes Mori to the pitch saw los Rayados win again on the road, as they look towards two more home matches this week, in the Copa MX against Puebla and in Liga MX action against Queretaro on Saturday.

There was some reported fan violence before the match, with reports of 29 people arrested as the police had to respond to problems at the Nou Camp. It’s really disappointing to see this happen in 2018, as all fans of soccer/football all over the world suffer when a few idiots ruin the experience for everyone. It’s bad enough that most police forces and security teams treat fans as if they are guilty before anything actually happens, and incidents like this will only serve to reinforce negative stereotypes about fans.

The match on the pitch, however, started without many fireworks, as both teams seemed to ease into the final match of the second weekend of Mexico’s Liga MX Apertura 2018. Leon got a few early chances, with a free kick in the sixth minute and a corner kick in the ninth minute, both of which were dealt with fairly easily by the Monterrey defense.

Jesus Gallardo got a clean cross off in the 11th minute, but as with almost all of the previous attacking efforts by Monterrey, the shot attempt was blocked and sent back up the pitch. One of the best chances in the first half by Monterrey came in the 17th minute as Jonathan Gonzalez, who had spent most of the first half lying deep, almost as part of a back three as the fullbacks pushed forward to provide width, dribbled through a crowd to get himself free down the middle. He passed to Rodolfo Pizarro and continued his run, and was left unmarked, but Pizarro shot the ball high when a better option would have been to pass it back to Gonzalez for the young player to shoot.

In the 21st minute, after a cornerkick by Monterrey, Jonathan Urretaviscaya took an ill-timed shot that lead to a breakout from Leon, and Jona Gonzalez had to come across the pitch to stop the quick counter-attack, earning himself a yellow card in the process.

The first real talking point about the first half came in the 23rd minute as Club Leon’s Pedro Aquino was shown a straight red after crashing into Monterrey’s Celso Oritz with both studs up. Oritz would have to leave the match, replaced by Alfonso Gonzalez. There was some debate about if Aquino had gotten the ball first, but as he seemed to lose control of the ball and slid, with both studs up into the shin and leg of Oritz, it wasn’t the most shocking decision of the night. No matter how you break it down, it was deemed a dangerous play and would almost always be given a straight red.

After watching Pizarro take a terrible long-range shot earlier in the half, Jona Gonzalez took his own terrible shot in the 31st minute as Leon, despite being down a man, did a good job of continuing to frustrate Monterrey on the attacking end of the pitch. Avilés Hurtado got a decent chance in the 40th minute to get a shot off, but he was stifled by two Leon defenders.

Leon went into halftime feeling somewhat fortunate to be level at a 0-0 scoreline, while los Rayados would feel a little annoyed at not being able to take better advantage of being up a man.

Rogelio Funes Mori made his season debut in the 58th minute, coming on for Leonel Vangioni, meaning that Jesus Gallardo moved to left back and Hurtado moved to a left midfield position, as Monterrey kept their 4-4-1-1 shape.

Funes Mori made an immediate impact on the match, as Monterrey looked much more likely to score once he took the pitch. In the 66th minute, Funes Mori went close on a header that he beat two Leon defenders to get to, but his header went just wide.

And then the second big talking point of the match happened in the 72nd minute, as Monterrey were awarded a penalty after Hurtado was taken down in the box. Replays showed some doubt about the seriousness of the foul and Leon fans and players were not at all happy with the decision.

Nico Sanchez stepped up and took the penalty, putting los Rayados ahead for good in the match. Monterrey took control of the match after the penalty, and only a few minutes after the somewhat dubious penalty call, a worse foul in the box against Funes Mori was waved off, as if the referee was content to allow a bad foul to make up for the borderline penalty call from before.

78th minute saw Molina come on for Hurtado for Monterrey’s final change of the evening. Leon did put some pressure on the Monterrey goal once going down 1-0, but Monterrey never really looked like they were going to concede a goal.

Funes Mori got his first goal of the Apertura 2018 in stoppage time, as Leon keeper Cota took his sweet time getting back to cover his goal after coming up at a corner kick. The Leon defenders did well to stop Pizarro’s shot attempt, but the former Chivas player found Funes Mori in a few yards of space and he made no mistake, chipping the ball into the back of the net over the outstretched arm of Cota.

In the ensuing celebration, Leon’s Fernando Navarro got a second yellow card, and while there wasn’t much left to do in the match, as the game ended only a little while after kickoff, Leon will be down another man going into next week’s visit to Xolos de Tijuana.

Leon fans will probably feel unlucky to not get at least a point out of this match, given that they did a fantastic job of keeping Monterrey off the score sheet, even down 10 men, until the penalty was awarded to los Rayados. Monterrey probably did enough to feel like they deserved the win, but a full-strength match probably would have ended as a 0-0 draw.