Nicolas Sanchez’s first half goal handed Rayados a tight 1-0 win over rivals Tigres in their CONCACAF Champions League Final first leg.
Diego Alonso’s men defended well and played a smart game, although Tigres’ gameplan became predictable and played into Monterrey’s hand.
Rayados looked the more comfortable early on and gave a warning of what was to come when the Tigres’ defense was almost caught napping following a Miguel Layun free-kick.
Moments later, Dorlan Pabon burst through the right-hand side, with Aviles Hurtado failing to connect properly off his fellow Colombian’s cross.
Tigres then survived another scare when Nahuel Guzman was forced into a save from a Dorlan Pabon effort. Two minutes later, Rayados came close again, with Nicolas Sanchez sending a shot bouncing off the woodwork.
At this point, Monterrey deserved the lead, and they would get it close to halftime. Rayados finally found a way through when a Dorlan Pabon corner was headed in by Nicolas Sanchez to send the away fans into a frenzy.
Andre-Pierre Gignac, who started the match on the bench, replaced Eduardo Vargas in the 60th minute with Tigres boss Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti looking for way back into the game.
The Felinos would immediately improve, as Jesus Dueñas forced Monterrey keeper Marcelo Barovero to his first big save of the game.
Tigres continued to try and unpick the Rayados defense, and Guido Pizarro was inches away from equalizing in the 85th minute with a header.
Los Felinos attacked until the very end, and had one final chance when Hugo Ayala failed to steer in a Luis Quiñones cross.
Monterrey, though, remained resolute and will now have the chance to lift the cup over their rivals in their own home ground, where they will face off next week in the second leg.