Monterrey hosted Tigres UANL in the second leg of the Concacaf Champions League final tonight, hoping to win a trophy this season while Tigres hoped to finally win an international trophy at the home of their most bitter rival. Monterrey were looking for a bit of payback themselves, as Tigres defeated Los Rayados in the Apertura 2017 final in the Estadio BBVA Bancomer, denying Monterrey a chance to win Liga MX for the first time since 2010.
Monterrey came into the match with a 1-0 lead over Tigres, having beat their cross-town rivals in the first leg of the CCL final last week. Diego Alonso is a manager who has flourished in two-legged matches with a lead, and Monterrey hoped that they would be able to get the first goal and then slow the match down and keep their rivals off of the scoresheet.
Monterrey were dominant from almost the first kick in the first half. Tigres had trouble dealing with the pace of Avilés Hurtado and Dorlan Pabón, and often looked nervous and disjointed at the back.
Carlos Salcedo had to be bailed out by his goalkeeper after nearly scoring an own goal, and that wasn’t the only high-profile mistake from the Tigres defense. And while Tigres were up to the challenge from Monterrey from both free kicks and corner kicks in the first half, they weren’t able to keep Monterrey off the board.
Rodolfo Pizarro was ruled to have been fouled in the penalty box by a defender a little over half-way through the first half and Nico Sánchez made no mistake from the subsequent spot kick. Monterrey took a 2-0 lead on aggregate with the goal, and looked to extend it as they continued to take the match to the visitors.
Pizarro continued to shine for Los Rayados, doing his best to create chances for his teammates by repeatedly beating Tigres defenders on the dribble.
Tigres brought on André-Pierre Gignac, who has been out injured for a few weeks, and Javier Aquino for Edu Vargas and Jurgen Damm in the beginning of the second half in an effort to give the team a spark and find a way back into the match.
Tigres immediately looked much more dangerous with Gignac in the game, as Tigres continued to try and find the big Frenchman in the box, looking to pull a goal back as quickly as possible.
Marcelo Barovero made an unbelievable stop in the 56th minute to deny Gignac a goal. The veteran Argentine keeper did well to get down to his left to push Gignac’s header past the post when it looked like a sure goal after it had been hit. Barovero looked to injure himself on the play, but was able to continue, although he did have to go down for more treatment a few minutes later after a Tigres player crashed into him going for a cross in the box.
Cesár Montes came on for Hurtado in the 60th minute as Alonso looked to lock the match down by adding on another central defender, allowing the two fullbacks to operate with more width, and given the attacking ability, and questionable defensive quality, of both Jesús Gallardo and Miguel Layun, perhaps adding some more defensive steel to the match at this point was a good idea.
Funes Mori chipped the Tigres keeper with an amazing almost-goal that would have been the goal of the CCL if it had gone in, but the striker was denied by the crossbar. And while Tigres had looked better on the attack in the second half, Monterrey was still looking to counter and drive ahead and take chances to grab a second goal while still remaining defensively responsible.
Jonathan Gonzalez came on for Charly Rodriguez in the 77th minute and Argentina international midfielder Maxi Meza came on in the 82nd minute for Pabón, as Alonso looked to freshen up his team that has played a lot of matches during this Clausura.
¡¡QUÉ GOLAZOOOOOOOOOOO!! Gignac de volea marca el descuento… una verdadera obra de arte@rayados 1-1 @Tigresoficial (2-1)— Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports) May 2, 2019
La #FinalRegia en @TheChampions EN VIVO https://t.co/m6r6JLgbHC pic.twitter.com/70sShv1TgG
Just when it appeared that Tigres were done for, Gignac scored a golazo in the 85th minute, giving Tigres fans hope and adding a sense of dread to Monterrey fans who have seen this team give up late goals and grab defeat from the jaws of victory far too many times over the Apertura 2018 and Clausura 2019 under Alonso.
Monterrey is hearing footsteps here. The Gignac goal has them shook.— Eric Gomez (@EricGomez86) May 2, 2019
Four minutes of stoppage time were given, and the nerves of Monterrey supporters both in the stadium and at home had to be shredded, given the occasion and what was at stake for both clubs.
In the end, however, Monterrey outlasted their rivals and won the Concacaf Champions League 2019 at home. What a night