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Match Recap: Monterrey squeak by Alianza FC 1-0 to advance in the CONCACAF Champions League

Rayados needed two penalty kicks to score & were saved by the post to keep a clean sheet

Monterrey v Alianza - CONCACAF Champions League 2019 Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images

Monterrey came into this match knowing that they needed to score some goals to advance in the CONCACAF Champions League. And while this team hadn’t scored in its past two matches, fans of los Rayados would find relief that Rogelio Funes Mori, the club’s Argentine talisman, was back in the lineup. In the end, it took two penalty kicks and a goal from a central defender for Monterrey to pick up the 1-0 win.

Los Rayados made little headway in the first fifteen minutes, as Alianza seemed to drop into putting 10 men behind the ball and forcing Monterrey to work for a goal. It also didn’t help that on the few occasions that Monterrey were able to get a good attack going that they seemed to take the extra pass instead of putting the ball on target.

Miguel Layun had a free kick in the 17th minute that was close to going after an Alianza player was given a yellow for a bad tackle just outside of the box. After that, Monterrey did get a few more attacking chances, but always seemed to be just a set too short to get a final ball.

Alianza had a great chance to open the scoring in the 30th minute after Monterrey were exposed at the back, but one of the players from the San Salvador team sent his shot over the bar when it looked as if would have been easier to score. Marcelo Barovero had done well to make himself big, but it was a chance that really should have been taken. About a minute later, los Rayados almost opened the scoring themselves from a corner kick, but Nico Sanchez’s header was straight at the keeper.

The rest of the half ended fairly quietly with Monterrey again coming close, but still being unable to unlock the Alianza defense, and with Alianza content to sit back and wait for opportunities on the counter attack.

Monterrey had a great chance to open the scoring in the 51st minute after Funes Mori was fouled in the box when it appeared that three Alianza defenders crashed into him. Nico Sanchez, Monterrey’s usual penalty taker, stepped up to the spot, but was denied. Rafael García, the Alianza FC keeper, made a brilliant save to keep the penalty out. It looked like a one-in-a-million type of save from the keeper

Marcelo Barovero was bailed out by the post a few minutes later as Óscar Cerén tested the Argentine keeper from distance. The shot was originally saved by the Monterrey keeper, but the ball still had enough power on it to keep going past him and it kissed off the post and out of harm’s way, but it still had to be nerve-wracking, as despite all of the pressure that had been put on the Alianza goal, Monterrey had yet to score.

Maxi Meza was subbed off for Dorlan Pabón, and while he appeared frustrated coming off, given the situation, it was understandable for the entire team to be extremely frustrated with how the match had been going.

Funes Mori again came close, but he wasn’t able to get his shot on target despite fighting off three defenders in the box to get the shot off. Funes Mori often looked frustrated all by himself, but Monterrey still continued to try and get wide and get crosses into the box for him to fight off a small army of defenders that would collapse on him every time.

Diego Alonso finally brought on another striker, of sorts, in the 75th minute, as Angel Zaldivar came onto the pitch for Carlos Rodriguez, a central midfielder as Monterrey finally looked as if they were going to try and get more players into the box.

Los Rayados continued to waste good scoring chances, as it seemed as if every Monterrey player had forgot how to keep a shot on target.

Late in the match, however, Pabón was fouled in the penalty box and when the referee pointed to the spot, Nico Sanchez was given a chance to redeem himself. Sanchez made no mistake this time, and buried the spot kick right down the center, avoiding another save from García.

Rodolfo Pizarro was sacrificed in the final minutes for Celso Ortiz, and Monterrey saw out the match and advanced in the Concacaf Champions League. Los Rayados will face off against the winner of the CS Herediano v Atlanta United tie, due to be resolved on Thursday night.