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Match Recap: Monterrey do enough to hold on and beat Pumas 1-0 at home

An early goal from Nico Sanchez was all that Monterrey needed to see off their visitors from CDMX

Monterrey v Pumas UNAM - Torneo Apertura 2018 Liga MX Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images

Los Rayados hosted league leading Pumas UNAM at the Estadio BBVA Bancomer Saturday night. Monterrey was looking to put a bad 3-0 to Club América at the Azteca behind them, while Pumas was looking to continue their hot streak and keep up with Cruz Azul, La Maquina had already beat Club León earlier in the evening.

However, Monterrey held on to an early lead to get a good victory at home, leaving los Rayados in second place in the table, just one point behind Cruz Azul.

Monterrey got the match off to a good start, scoring a goal from a corner kick within the first five minutes.

Aviles Hurtado was fouled outside of the Pumas penalty box, and after Dorlan Pabón’s strong free kick was sent into touch, Nico Sanchez did well to score a very nice headed goal to put los Rayados ahead before anyone had a chance to catch their breath.

Sanchez almost got a second goal from the next corner kick, as a designed play to Jonathan Gonzalez didn’t quite work out. The ball floated in the six yard box, and Sanchez’s perfectly timed chilena was hit straight at the keeper.

Pumas had their best chance in the match when a cross wasn’t defended properly, and the attacker was just a hair late to the ball, and a slight touch would have put the ball into the back of an open net, as Marcelo Balovera was caught out.

Monterrey continued to press forward and control possession. Luis Madrigal and Aviles Hurtado both hit the crossbar, with Luis Madrigal’s miss coming from a brilliant cross from Vanigoni found Madrigal all alone in the six yard box and his open header hit the crossbar when it looked easier to score.

Pabón and Hurtado caused the Pumas defenders fits, causing the visitors to resort to kicking, or grabbing them by the jersey as the two Colombians went to skip past them.

Madrigal missed another great chance right before half-time, and despite the dominance in shots and possession, Monterrey was still only up 1-0. Monterrey fans would feel a little disappointed to only be up by one goal, and the glaring absence of Rogelio Funes Mori was felt by los Rayados, as you would have expected the Argentinian to convert at least one, if not two, of the chances that went begging by Madrigal.

The second half started much as the same as the first half ended, with los Rayados dominating possession. However, they would still not get any good chances to extend their lead.

Pumas had an excellent chance, as they once again had a man free at the back post, and a low cross came across the six-yard box, but Eric Cantu did some very, very good defensive work to be able to block the shot and clear the ball.

Monterrey made their first change in the 68th minute, as Jesus Molina came on for Celso Ortiz, which was a good chance given the fact that Ortiz already had a yellow card and that with Pumas starting to press forward, fresh legs would be needed to keep up. The later in the match it got, the more desperate the visitors became.

Madrigal was subbed off in the 74th minute, as he was unable to get as many chances in the second half as he did in the first half, with Jesus Gallardo coming on. Gallardo transferred to Monterrey from Pumas last summer, and this is the first opportunity the Mexico international has had to play against his old club.

Pumas almost equalized late in the match with a remarkable shot from Felipe Mora that hit the crossbar and bounced out as Pumas turned up the pressure, searching for an equalizer. Pabón was subbed off late for Urretaviscaya when it appeared that the Colombian had suffered a slight knock chasing down a ball a few minutes earlier in the match.

With Pabón and out and Hurtado playing up front as a central striker, Rodolfo Pizarro was left as the one to bring the ball into the attacking zone, but he was frustrated and wasn’t able to make the same kind of runs that Pabón did to put pressure on Pumas in the final few minutes of the match.

Gallardo had a header cleared away at the last minute by a Pumas defender that would have put the match to bed, but Monterrey played the resulting corner kick short and looked to retain possession and waste time rather than try for a dagger.

Pumas weren’t able to get any more real chances at goal and Monterrey kept the clean sheet to grab the victory at home.