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CCL Match Recap: Monterrey lose match 1-0 to Atlanta United, but win 3-1 overall on aggregate

Monterrey rode their three goal advance in the first leg to an overall 3-1 win and advance to the semifinals

MLS: Champions League-Monterrey at Atlanta United FC Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta United hosted Monterrey in the second leg of the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinal match between one of the deepest and biggest teams in Mexico and the reigning MLS Champion.

The first leg back in Monterrey had ended 3-0 in favor of the hosts, so los Rayados knew that anything other than an eye-popping scoreline would favor them to advance, while Atlanta United players knew that they would have to press early and often to have anything close to a chance to score the required four goals to advance in the tournament.

The first half highlights for Monterrey were some remarkable saves from Marcelo Barovero as Monterrey chose to stay back and absorb pressure, while Atlanta responded by maintaining possession. However, with the solid brick of three central defenders sitting in front of Barovero, most of the shots were from distance and were of the low-percentage variety instead of from dangerous areas.

Pity Martinez had a couple shots in the first half that were very close to going in, with his shot in the 36th minute catching everyone by surprise but Barovero, who was paying attention and did a good job to get to the well-struck ball to turn it out into touch for a corner kick. Martinez had another good shot for Atlanta before halftime, but his effort from the right wing sailed over the goal.

The first half ended scoreless, with Monterrey playing to not lose while Atlanta was becoming increasingly desperate with every minute going past making their task even greater.

Avilés Hurtado almost put the match out of reach in the 73rd minute, but his shot hit the crossbar and bounced out. It would have been the perfect way for Monterrey to put the game to bed, but it was not to be.

Josef Martinez gave Atlanta a ray of hope in the 77th minute by scoring a remarkable goal to put Atlanta on the board, although Monterrey still had a two goal lead. It was the first goal that Monterrey had allowed in the CCL, after Monterrey had played to a scoreless draw in San Salvador against Alianza FC, beat Alianza FC 1-0 in Monterrey, and had also put three goals up on Atlanta on the BBVA Bancomer.

Darlington Nagbe had a goal ruled out after Cesár Montes was fouled before Nagbe’s shot left his boot, as Monterrey started to look a tad wobbly. However Monterrey’s defence would not be breached again.

Atlanta almost got a second goal, but Barovero made another good save late on to deny Josef Martinez a chance to pull another goal back for the hosts. The rest of the 90 minutes, plus the four minutes of stoppage time, ended without any further incidents.

While Monterrey lost the match 1-0, the won the quarterfinal tie 3-1 on aggregate, meaning that they will find out if they play Sporting Kansas City or Panama’s Independiente in the semifinals. The other CCL semifinal features Santos Laguna squaring off against Tigres UANL, meaning that there is a decent chance that Monterrey will play at least two more Clásico Regio matches this season.

Atlanta United made it interesting late, but in the end Monterrey were just too solid on defense and los Rayados move on to the next round.