Monterrey hosted Cruz Azul needing a win to keep pace with Club León and also a chance to gain ground on Tigres, who lost to Club América earlier in the night. Cruz Azul, on the other hand, looked to cement their place in the Liguilla spots, with Pachuca’s win sending Los Tuzos above La Maquina.
The conditions made life difficult for both teams, with the rain coming down pretty hard all game. Big puddles started to form in the second half, and while it wasn’t as bad as it has been at times in the Apertura, the pitch did seem a lot worse for the wear.
Monterrey and Cruz Azul got off to a chippy start, with a number of yellow cards being handed out in the first half-hour or so. Monterrey also had the bulk of possession, and while they could put chances on net, with six corner kicks in the first 28 minutes, they weren’t able to find a way past.
Rogelio Funes Mori had a shot go off the post in the 28th minute from a corner kick, it what was the only really great chance for either team in the first half hour. Cruz Azul could not deal with the height and aerial skill of Monterrey all night, as Cesár Montes and Funes Mori constantly won headers in the box on corner kicks.
Rodolfo Pizarro missed a great chance for a goal a few minutes later, as once again he was unable to replicate his form for Mexico, where he was brilliant for El Tri against Chile, while wearing a Monterrey shirt.
GO LA ZO— FOX Deportes (@FOXDeportes) March 31, 2019
Avilés Hurtado pone de pie al estadio con una chilena que fue imposible de detener para Corona. @Rayados cierra el primer tiempo en ventaja. #FOXLigaMX @RodolfoLanderos @SirJohnLaguna @marianot19 @alejadelgadillo @emperadorsuarez pic.twitter.com/04UWd9izir
However, as the half was winding down, Avilés Hurtado pulled out an extremely timely golazo to put Monterrey ahead. A well-struck free kick was set up perfectly for Hurtado to bicycle kick the ball home. About as good of a goal as you’ll ever see.
The stunned Cruz Azul players saw out the rest of the half, and didn’t exactly start the second half any better.
GOL de Montes. @Rayados inicia el complemento aumentando su ventaja sobre Cruz Azul. #FOXLigaMX @RodolfoLanderos @SirJohnLaguna @marianot19 @alejadelgadillo @emperadorsuarez pic.twitter.com/n89DYVR1d4— FOX Deportes (@FOXDeportes) March 31, 2019
Cruz Azul were made to pay for their inability to mark on corner kicks as Montes finally made La Maquina pay in the 50th minute with a great header from a corner kick. A brilliant play from the young central defender who seems to be adding attacking headers to his skill-set, as he’s already brillant in the air on defense.
The conditions deteriorated as the match went on, and neither team looked very convincing going forward. Monterrey were the better of the two clubs, but they seemed unable to get a third goal as Cruz Azul continued to hang around. Jonathon Gonzalez came in for Charly Rodriguez in the 66th minute and Dorlan Pabón came off for Jesús Gallardo
Cruz Azul pulled a goal back in fairly controversial fashion, as a foul wasn’t called on what appeared to be a clear penalty and at least a yellow card as Pizarro went down in the Cruz Azul box, but the referee allowed play to continue and Milton Caraglio was able to put one past Marcelo Barovero. Not a great look for Monterrey, as they protested while the Cruz Azul players simply kept playing, despite the jeers from the crowd.
Johan Vasquez was brought in in the 90th minute to help see the match out, but Monterrey again allowed a late, late equalizer as Cruz Azul was able to find an equalizer in on the verge of stoppage time as Cruz Azul finally got an open header from a corner kick and Igor Lichnovsky put one past Barovero. Perhaps Barovero should have gotten to the header, but it was well-struck and not a lot any keeper could have done about it.
In the end, another soul-destroying draw for Monterrey as Los Rayados once again failed to find a victory after leading late in the match. Failing to hold leads had plagued this team all Apertura, and despite being third in the table, it seems that this team has once again returned to bad habits.
Monterrey manager Diego Alonso will once again face difficult questions about his tenure at the club, as a small fortune has been spent on players in the last two transfer windows, only for Monterrey to be no better than they had under Antonio Mohamed.
Up next for Monterrey, a Concacaf Champions League match against Sporting Kansas City and perhaps a chance for Alonso and this team to redeem themselves.