Monterrey got a win in the first leg of their Semifinals matchup against Necaxa but will go home feeling they blew a huge opportunity, as they dominated the game and should have done better than the 2-1 result. Monterrey blew opportunity after opportunity and almost paid for it dearly when Necaxa tied. Yet they were able to come back and win despite Necaxa getting an away goal going into the second leg.
The game started with Necaxa hoping to surprise a Monterrey team that was favored at home. They came close a minute in when Cristian Calderon had a shot in the area that just went wide, shocking the Monterrey defense. Monterrey’s response was also quick. Off a corner kick , Cesar Montes rose to head the ball and come close to scoring but it went wide.
The Rayados came close again when a cross almost reached Vincent Janssen for a tap in but a Necaxa defense cleared it just in time. Then finally things opened for Monterrey when a cross found a wide open Jesus Gallardo. His header was stopped by Necaxa’s keeper Hugo Gonzalez but Gallardo got to the rebound and scored with a right footed shot past Gonzalez for the 1-0.
Rayados almost scored again with a cross by Darlon Pabon that just went past Janssen. By this time, Monterrey had complete control and Necaxa was sweating it. Gallardo came close again when his left footed long range shot was saved by Gonzalez. Pabon again got a shot off that Gonzalez stopped. Gonzalez made a great stop after a great combination play between Janssen and Nicolas Sanchez ended with Sanchez getting wide in the area in a 1 vs 1 against the keeper. The halftime whistle blew and Monterrey should have done better than the 1-0 scoreline suggested.
The second half started and Monterrey continued with the wasteful shooting, with Pizarro missing a great opportunity for a goal. Pizarro tried to make up for it later when he got a great shot from outside the area that Gonzalez had to make a great stop.
The danger of the play for Monterrey came true when off a counter Mauro Quiroga went 1 vs 1 against the keeper, and although his shot was weak, Monterrey’s keeper Marcelo Barovero failed to stop the ball in a mistake. The ball went through and Necaxa had gotten the 1-1 tie in a totally undeserved way that had been off Monterrey’s lack of scoring.
Monterrey needed to score and for that they subbed on Maximiliano Meza for Leonel Vangioni. Monterrey got back into it and after a play in the area, Janssen was able to bully his way past a Necaxa defender and got a left footed shot past Gonzalez for the 2-1.
Monterrey had their lead back but still needed to get more. Mohammed, though, might have thought different as he subbed in Jonathan Gonzalez for Carlos Rodriguez, who had been playing a good game on offense.
Necaxa then had a great opportunity, but Barovero made a good stop off a header.
Monterrey kept at the offense and subbed on Jonathan Urretaviscaya for Dorlan Pabon but their attacks weren’t as dangerous as before. Gallardo had another good shot from outside the area but Gonzalez was able to deflect it for a corner kick. In that corner kick, Sanchez got a wide open header but his shot went wide.
In injury time, Urretaviscaya later got an opportunity for a free shot outside the area but his shot went wide. Monterrey tried but the game ended 2-1 and Necaxa got a breath of relief.
Just like in the firstt leg of the Quarterfinal game against Santos, Monterrey was an offensive force but this time they couldn’t convert and failed in the final touch. They will have a tough task against a very disciplined Necaxa, who only need a 1-0 win to get to the final.
However, Necaxa will also have a tough situation against a Monterrey team that can counter well and who made them suffer tonight when they had to have the offensive weight in the game. Still, Necaxa can improve knowing they are at home and that they dodged a bullet in the first leg.