As forecasted last week, Rayados de Monterrey dealt with their Estado de México rivals with no real challenge. In what ended up being a very rainy Tuesday night in the Estadio BBVA in the aftermath of Hurricane Hanna, Rayados rediscovered victory 215 days later. But who’s counting?
Right out of the gate, the blue and white came out firing, as Dorlan Pabón controlled a bouncing ball just outside of Toluca’s penalty box which he fired fiercely just over the crossbar in barely the 4th minute of action. Toluca answered a couple minutes later, with a good combination between Estrada and Medina, with the latter being denied on the goal-line by the Monterrey defense. It was all Rayados after that.
In the 20th minute of action, Avilés Hurtado received a ball with his back to the goal, was allowed to turn around, and send a lovely through ball in to the box to assist Rogelio Funes Mori, who finished in the good manner he usually does. And then, just nine minutes later, it happened again. This time it was “Charly” Rodríguez passing the ball off to Hurtado, only to see the Colombian first touch the ball beautifully back to him, as Rodríguez slid in through the Toluca defense to ultimately lob the ball over a diving García. Just like that, Rayados took a 2-0 lead on two quality assists from Avilés Hurtado. Towards the end of the first half, Toluca had a couple of long distance shots that were dealt with easily by Hugo González, with Ecuadorian striker Michael Estrada botching a wide open shot right in front of the goal as result from a rebound off González’s save. Other than that, the Diablos Rojos failed to create any real danger.
Toluca’s only goal came 22 seconds into the second half, when Alan Medina took advantage of a lucky bounce the ball took off teammate Pedro Canelo on the cross sent in by Aníbal Chalá. In what appeared to be a similar trend from last season with Rayados letting multiple-goal leads slip, the fans’ worries were justified. But that was all it would ultimately be. Monterrey regained full control of the match after that, and even let multiple opportunities go by to have blown the game wide open. Finally, in the 85th minute and with a dying Toluca squad, Gallardo drove the ball down the left flank, beating Carlos Cisneros all the way to the byline, where he crossed the ball back in toward the penalty spot, where a hungry Funes Mori awaited to feast on his prey. That marked the Argentinian’s second goal of the night and capped a Rayados opening night victory.
Nothing was suprising about last night’s match. We saw a very weak and lazy Toluca squad led by “Chepo” de la Torre in the Copa por México, and that in itself rose many red flags. This is a team who marched 15th overall when the COVID pandemic struck, with only 10 points in as many matches. With no major signings and the loss of last season’s revelation (Leo Fernández), this team looks to be doomed from the start, as we have seen nothing in their four matches (3 Copa por México, 1 Liga MX) to convince us otherwise.
On the other hand, assistant coach Aldo de Nigris got his first career win acting as head coach in place of the suspended Antonio Mohamed. Rayados ended up firing 20 shots in the game, although only 6 were on target. That almost doubled Toluca’s 11 total shots. Not to mention, chances created. The home team created at least five clear chances per half, while the visitors mustered three or four in the entire game. The difference between the two was abysmal, as Monterrey looked ready and well-prepared, and should’ve won the game by at least two or three more goals. Toluca failed to put together any relevant attack apart from the Alan Medina shot that was cleared on the goal-line in the opening minutes of the match.
Consider Rayados back at full strength from this point forward, as well as regaining their championship-contender status. They should be worthy defenders of their title, as they are still the current champs.