Monterrey came into the match looking to continue their hot start in Mexico’s Clausura 2019, while Club León would have wanted to get a result after being unlucky to only draw Monterrey’s cross-town rivals Tigres UANL the previous week.
Monterrey got started early, putting in two attacks in quick fashion, coming close on a couple occasions in the first five minutes or so of the match. León responded quickly, getting themselves a good chance on goal in the 11th minute, forcing a corner kick after some good attacking play.
That early pressure, however, would not last the rest of the half, as León settled the match down and kept men behind the ball, not allowing Monterrey to get a lot of pressure. The visitors did a good job of making it difficult for Monterrey to mount attacks while doing enough to hold onto the ball at times, but Monterrey’s defense was able to hold them off.
Perhaps the biggest talking point in the first half was the non-penalty call on Rogelio Funes Mori, as he seemed to be hauled down in the box in the 42nd minute, but the referee wasn’t interested in calling anything and the game went on.
The game opened up in the second half, and Monterrey finally got the board with an assist from VAR.
¡Gol de @Rayados! Nico Sánchez convirtió el primer tanto para el equipo de Monterrey desde el punto penal #FOXLigaMX @marianot19 @SirJohnLaguna @alejadelgadillo @pulpozuniga pic.twitter.com/UNod7KtENm— FOX Deportes (@FOXDeportes) January 13, 2019
Monterrey had started to dial up the pressure in the beginning of the second half, and after a couple dangerous attacks, Andrés Mosquera blocked a cross from Jesús Gallardo with his arm. Play continued for a minute or so, until the ball went out of play and the referee consulted with VAR, came back and rightfully awarded the penalty. Central defender Nico Sanchez, who was the team’s leading scorer in the Apertura, slotted home the penalty, despite Rodolfo Cota, the León goalkeeper, correctly guessing the location of the spot kick.
Monterrey got their second goal after some frustrating chances that should have resulted in at least one more goal, but a wonderful free kick from Carlos Rodriguez allowed Nico Sanchez to get both his and the team’s second goal of the match.
Maximiliano Meza, the big money acquisition from Independiente in Argentina, made his debut, making a good run with the ball after coming on for Avilés Hurtado. He did not look out of place, but perhaps some more time with the team, not to mention a start, would have allowed him to make a difference.
However, less than two minutes later, León struck right back from a corner kick, doing well to catch Monterrey off guard. A quick corner routine led to a cross that went right across the face of goal, finding Vinicio Angulo all alone at the far post. Angulo chested the ball down and fired a quick shot into the back of the net, right past a diving Marcelo Barovero.
Monterrey fell into bad habits with the lead, and instead of pushing forward for a third goal, they seemed to take their foot off the gas, and looked to coast the rest of the way to a 2-1 victory. It almost worked.
At the very death, with only seconds left in the match, León’s Walter Gonzalez headed a ball down into the feet of Mosquera after a free kick. Mosquera somehow hit the bar after a powerful shot. In the subsequent goal-mouth scramble, Barovero was unable to keep the ball from crossing the goal line and the ref signaled a good goal.
The replays showed that the ball certainly appeared to cross the line, despite the efforts of Barovero, but there was at least a few questions about if Mosquera was offsides or if he had used his arm to knock the ball over the line. However, it didn’t appear that the referee was particularly interested and blew the final whistle.
Monterrey will feel like they allowed a win and two points slip through their fingers tonight, and they would be right. Despite some brilliant last-ditch attacking from León, this match should have already been in the bag in stoppage time with the number of wasted chances that Monterrey had. It looked like a new Monterrey team last week, but this week los Rayados seemed to fall back into their old habits from the Apertura, where they allowed the other team to hang around for far too long instead of putting their opponents away. If Monterrey are to be anything other than contender this season, they need to figure out how to put away teams week in and week out.