Club Tijuana, winners of three straight Liga MX matches, faced off against a Monterrey team that hadn’t won a match in over a month, with the last victory for Los Rayados coming against Lobos BUAP back in August.
Monterrey needed a win to ensure that they would stay in the Liguilla places, while a victory for Xolos would see them leap up into the Liguilla spots themselves. The rain was coming down hard, and while they did play the match, it had to be called early because of the conditions.
Monterrey walked away with three points and a lucky win, and Club Tijuana will leave disappointed that they were behind when the conditions made play almost impossible, as a fluke goal for Monterrey near the end of the match ended up putting the match out of reach for Tijuana.
Funes Mori grabbed a great goal in the 11th minute after Leonel Vangioni had done good work to keep the ball alive and got it into the box at Funes Mori’s feet. The striker took a couple touches and was given enough space by the defender, and Funes Mori shot the ball through the legs of his defender and it skipped past the outstretched hands of Gibran Lajud, kissed off the post and into the back of the net.
Both sides traded decent chances in the rest of the half, but the biggest factor had to be the conditions. The pitch at the BBVA Bancomer wasn’t the greatest to begin with, and the rain over the past few days has been brutal. Wednesday’s Copa MX match between Los Rayados and Zacatepec had to be postponed because of the weather and tonight’s match had to be close to being called off, given the amount of water that was on the pooling on the pitch during the first half.
Both sets of players struggled with the pitch, as the ball often took off in unexpected directions, leading to some poor passing at times. However, the possession and shot totals were both fairly even, with the only real difference being the moment of brilliance from Funes Mori.
The second half opened up with Monterrey looking to take control of the match. Monterrey won a few free kicks to open the half, as they looked to exploit the slippery pitch by knocking the ball ahead and running onto the ball and forcing the Xolo defenders to hack them down.
Dorlan Pabón did a lot of the dirty work and kept running at the Tijuana defenders, and he was rewarded in the 55th minute as he was brought down in the box, giving Monterrey a penalty.
Nico Sanchez buried the penalty, and while Monterrey had often looked second best at times in the second half, the hosts were nonetheless up 2-0 with a little over a half-hour left to play in the match.
At 2-0, the substitutions started, with Eric Cantu coming on for Jonathan Gonzalez for Monterrey, and Jesus Angulo came on for Omar Mendoza.
The conditions started to deteriorate in the second half as the rain seemed to pick up speed and the pitch became overwhelmed by the water. Funes Mori slipped and fell attempting a shot while he was trying to beat a defender with pace.
"Give an assist to the rain, Rayados have a 3-0 lead!"— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) September 30, 2018
Jesús Gallardo adds a third goal for Monterrey thanks to a little help from the rain. pic.twitter.com/26cZUp4uXM
The sloppiness of the pitch was in full display on the third goal of the night, as Jesus Gallardo pounced on a “pass” from Pabón that stopped in right in front of the Club Tijuana box. Gallardo kicked it past a diving Lajud, and then shot the ball after it had stopped in the box near the penalty spot.
Funes Mori came off a few minutes later for Monterrey, replaced by Luis Madrigal, and Juan Lucero had also came on for Luis Fuentes for Tijuana. But by that point the conditions were starting to border on the absurd, as the players seemed to be completely unable to pass the ball as it kept getting stuck in the grass that was starting to resemble a swamp.
Finally, in the 86th minute, the referee called an end to the game, and while the Tijuana players would have liked a chance to get back into the match, or at least not end the match without a goal, the referee did the right thing by calling a stop to the match. It was only a matter of time until a player got hurt, and given the sheer number of key players out for Monterrey, it had to come as a relief for the whistle to come early.
So Monterrey climb up to 4th in the table after the win and Xolos are left still outside of the Liguilla places after a match that descended into the absurd in the second half. Monterrey finally stop the bleeding with a win and Xolos had their league clean sheet and winning streaks ended. It doesn’t get any easier for either team, as Monterrey visit CDMX to take on Cruz Azul next weekend while Xolos will entertain Querétaro at home.