Monterrey conquered the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League final after getting a 1-0 victory against Club America. Monterrey was overall the better team and got a deserved victory, although it was not without controversy. Despite the controversy, Club America had few arguments for the win after a match in which Monterrey had the better chances. With the win by Rayados, they will represent CONCACAF in the 2021 Club World Cup which will be played in the United Arab Emirates in early 2022.
The first half started with both teams having as close to their starting lineups as possible. Mario Osuna took the place of the injured Pedro Aquino, while both teams had a player missing since they were in another team when the tournament started (America had Miguel Layun that was with Monterrey, while Monterrey had Joel Campbell who was with Leon), Monterrey started well when Celso Ortiz had a wide open header that just went wide. Later it was Rogelio Funes Mori who got a great shot that forced America’s goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa to make a great save. Than after a cross into the area from Jesus Gallardo, America’s defender Sebastian Caceres tried to clear it and instead whiffed on the ball and it fell to Funes Mori, who easily scored a tap in left footed shot for the 1-0 lead. The referee went to VAR for a possible offside, but decided it wasn’t so. Monterrey continued to dominate as they started great offensively, while America couldn’t shake off the goal scored against them. In a play that showed the way the team was, they lost the ball and almost allowed Funes Mori a one-on-one against Ochoa. America finally got their first real opportunity in the 32nd minute with a shot from Roger Martinez that went wide. Off a free kick, Richard Sanchez got off a great shot that forced Monterrey’s goalkeeper, Esteban Andrada to make a great save. After a good play by Alvaro Fidalgo, a pass in the area found Henry Martin, whose shot was saved by Andrada. Officially the tide had turned, and America now had more possession as they looked for the tying goal. Unfortunately for America, it wasn’t enough and Monterrey took their 1-0 lead to the halftime pause.
The second half started with Monterrey hoping to build on their lead while America tried to come back and tie the match. After a couple of minutes, America made their first move by subbing out Luis Fuentes for Sebastian Cordova, a totally offensive-minded move. Monterrey had a great chance when a cross into the area was lowered by Funes Mori, but his close range shot went wide. Later, Maximiliano Meza got to a cross into the area but his diving header went straight to Ochoa’s hands. As Richard Sanchez tried to get to a ball, it looked like he injured himself. America subbed out Mario Osuna for Nicolas Benedetti. After a harsh foul by Martinez on Celso Ortiz (which got him a yellow card), it looked like Ortiz was injured and had to be subbed out for Matias Kranevitter. Monterrey wasted a great opportunity when a cross into the area found a wide open Alfonso Gonzalez, but he headed it wide. Another possible injury looked to have happened when Funes Mori fell after a run and he had to be subbed out for Vincent Janssen. A great opportunity happened when Janssen got past the defender, but wasn’t was pushed enough wide and his resulting shot had to be miraculously cleared off the line by Caceres. America subbed out Roger Martinez for Federico Viñas. Monterrey came close again off a corner kick, when Cesar Montes got a header from close range but it went wide. Jesus Gallardo got into the area and after going past Caceres, got off a shot that went wide. Monterrey then subbed out an injured Alfonso Gonzalez for Erick Aguirre. After a pass from Janssen found Meza, he got off a shot that went just wide. In what looked to be the final play, a free kick in the area was cleared and Viñas was able to get the ball. His left footed shot hit the post before the ball fell to Antonio Lopez, whose shot was blocked by Maxi Meza as America’s player asked for a handball. The referee went to VAR. Replays showed that Meza had made contact with the ball on his arm on the ground, but the referee ruled it not to be handball and the match ended in the most controversial way.
Monterrey was the deserving winner of the match, although the controversial final play will have a lot of people talking, especially from America side. Still, they will have few arguments after what happened during the match. Monterrey had a great start where they dominated, although America was able to even things out and the end of the first half. Yet the second half was almost all Monterrey when it was America who were in need of a goal to get a tie. Had it not been by lousy finishing and some incredible saves, Monterrey would have scored more, which would have made the final play irrelevant. Monterrey was closer to scoring the second goal than America was to scoring their first. Coach Javier Aguirre has his first silverware and the most important, as Monterrey will now try to equal the performance of city rivals Tigres, who were the first CONCACAF team to get to a Club World Cup Final in 2021. Club America will need to bounce back as the pressure on coach Santiago Solari will be increased if they do not win the 2021 Apertura title.