Monterrey got a key 1-0 away win in the first leg of the Copa MX Final against Tijuana. Monterrey is now 90 minutes away from becoming the current champions of everything top flight in Mexico as they were the last winners of the Liga MX title and the Concacaf Champions League. Tijuana meanwhile are only trailing by one goal, but will need to improve a lot after a lackluster performance in which they seemed to have been hurt by a bad referee decision. The second leg will be played in Monterrey on November 11th.
The first half started with Monterrey coming out with their Copa MX team which meant starting backup keeper Luis Cardenas as well as starts to players like Daniel Parra, Alfonso Alvarado and Edson Gutierrez. Tijuana meanwhile came closer to having their regular staring lineup. Tijuana had the first opportunity when Ivan Lopez had a chance in the area but his left footed shot went wide. Monterrey could have had a great opportunity when Parra tried to find Maxi Meza in the area, but he couldn’t get to the ball. Minutes later, Aldo Cruz challenged Maxi Meza and brought him down and the ref gave a penalty kick to Monterrey. Nicolas Sanchez stepped up to take it and placed a right footed shot past Tijuana’s goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco for the 1-0.
Tijuana went into the attack after the goal and Monterrey almost made them pay when in a counter attack, Rogelio Funes Mori got an outside shot that went past Orozco but hit the left post instead of going in. Tijuana continued to attack but but outside of a shot by Fabian Castillo, they weren’t creating much danger. Monterrey came close again with another shot by Funes Mori, but it went wide. The halftime whistle blew and while Tijuana had most of the possession, Monterrey had looked like the better team.
The second half started with Tijuana subbing out Victor Guzman for Miguel Barbieri. Tijuana had the first opportunity in the second half when Lopez left a pass in the area to Christian Rivera, whose shot went over the bar in a play in which he should have done better. Xolos came close again when a close range shot forced Cardenas to make a great save. Xolos looked to be doing better in the attack, and to take advantage they subbed in Luis Leal and Marcel Ruiz for Bryan Angulo and Luis Gamiz. Later they subbed out Fabian Castillo for Jordi Cortizo. Monterrey meanwhile made their first move by subbing out Alfonso Gonzalez for Celso Ortiz. Monterrey had their first opportunity and it was a bad miss when off a corner kick, Funes Mori got the ball inches from the goal but his shot went over the bar in what was a wasted opportunity. It looked like Tijuana was getting into the game and things would improve by an incredibly stupid play.
After a clash for the ball in a throw in, Daniel Parra ended up kicking Jori Cortizo in front of the referee and got red carded. Monterrey was going to be down to ten players for the remaining minutes as the home team looked to get the tying goal. The card forced Monterrey to sub out Meza for Eric Cantu as they sent a message that they were going to sit back and hold on to their lead. Then in what looked like a controversial play, after a foul on Jose Alvarado, Marcel Ruiz got red carded to even things up. Replays showed that it was barely a foul and in no way should’ve been a red card. Tijuana had another great chance when Barbieri rose in a corner kick to get a wide open header, but the ball went wide. Later it was Cortizo who had a chance when he got a left footed shot in the area but it went just wide. With Tijuana still pushing, Monterrey subbed out Funes Mori for Vincent Janssen and Alfonso Alvarado for Shayr Mohammed. Tijuana didn’t have another chance and Monterrey struck first with the win.
Monterrey gets a huge win and are in prime position to win the Copa MX. It wasn’t very pretty, but they got the job done and are now 90 minutes from holding every current trophy in Liga MX. Tijuana where hurt by the bad decision on their red card to Ruiz, but overall they failed to live up to the advantage of the home team as they continue their current struggles. Monterrey will be heavy favorites although in past games, they have failed to live to it against Tijuana, like in the Clausura 2018 when they shocked them with a 2-1 win in the Quarterfinals in Monterrey. Still if they play anywhere to the level shown in this first leg, Monterrey should get the Copa MX title and their treble.