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Match Recap: Tigres win the match and the semifinal with a 1-0 victory over Monterrey

Tigres and Rayados drew 1-1 on aggregate with Tigres advance due to their superior seeding

Tigres UANL v Monterrey - Playoffs Torneo Clausura 2019 Liga MX Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images

Monterrey traveled to face off against their city rivals, Tigres UANL with a trip to the Liga MX finals the reward for the victor of the two-legged Liguilla match-up. Monterrey had come out of the first leg at home with a slim 1-0 lead on aggregate despite dominating the reverse fixture.

In the end, Tigres advanced despite the 1-1 aggregate scoreline due to their performance in the regular season, where they were the number two seed, versus Monterrey’s number three seed, because they had more points in the Clausura 2019. A cruel way to determine the match between two heavyweights in the Liguilla, although it won’t diminish the celebration on one half of Monterrey nor will it be of any comfort on the other half of Monterrey.

Tigres looked more like the TIigres that won Apertura Liga MX titles three straight years from 2015 to 2017 than the team that looked like it couldn’t be bothered to show up in the match at the Estadio BBVA Bancomer during midweek. Marcelo Barovero had to make a remarkable save to keep out a very dangerous shot.

Tigres dominated the first half as they sought to try and get a goal and get back into the semifinal. Monterrey, on the other hand, seemed to want to try and play conservatively, and while Monterrey appeared to try and park the bus, it wasn’t just all the defensive nature of Monterrey that meant that Tigres held onto the ball and had almost all of the shots in the first half.

Dorlan Pabón had come close for Monterrey, but his long-range shot had bounced off the post and out in what was probably the best chance for Los Rayados to score in the half.

Tigres broke through right before half-time, scoring a goal in the 42nd minute. Guido Pizarro rose above the Rayados defense to get his head to the ball and stick it past a helpless Barovero to open the scoring at El Volcán. Monterrey looked a little shell-shocked giving up a goal from a set piece, as they had been one of the best, if not the best team at not giving up headed goals all season.

Halftime came with Tigres up 1-0 and set to go through to the final as the higher seed. All of Monterrey’s defending had been for naught, as Tigres had still managed to find a way to score, even from a rather unlikely source.

Diego Alonso made a quick change in the second half, pulling Mexico international Jesús Gallardo off for Avilés Hurtado in the 51st minute. Hurtado is the better goal-scorer of the two, so it appeared that Alonso was almost immediately starting to throw everything forward in search of a goal.

Monterrey suffered a blow a few minutes later, as Barovero pulled up with what appeared to be a calf injury, and he was forced to come off. Not ideal to see a goalkeeper go down in a match of this magnitude, and it would also take one of the offensive-minded changes away from Alonso as the match wore on. Luis Cárdenas played pretty well as the game wore on, although he didn’t face nearly as many dangerous chances as Barovero did in the first half.

Monterrey started to dominate the match in the second half, pouring forward in search of a goal and putting immense pressure on the Tigres goal. However, despite a number of good chances, Nahuel Guzmán played brilliantly, pulling out all the stops to keep Monterrey off the board. Monterrey brought on Argentina international midfielder Maxi Meza for Charly Rodriguez as Alonso once again made a more attacking change, but it didn’t help.

Guzmán made the save of the match to get to a Rodolfo Pizarro header in the 81st minute after Rogelio Funes Mori had a goal taken away after it was (correctly) ruled offside a few minutes before that. In the end, Monterrey couldn’t find a way to score and Tigres will now play the winner of the Club América v Club León semifinal.

Monterrey will now go into the offseason with one trophy, but not the one that they wanted for the second straight year, after winning the Copa MX in the Apertura 2017 but falling in the Liga MX finals to Tigres. A Concacaf Champions League win this season is better than a Copa MX win, but this team has spent a small fortune trying to win a Liga MX title, only to lose to Tigres yet again. A good season that would be considered a success almost everywhere else in Liga MX for Los Rayados who now have an entire summer to think about what will happen next year.