Monterrey closed out the series against Atletico Pantoja with a 3-1 victory at home. After a 3-0 win in the first leg, Monterrey cruised to book their ticket in the Quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League in front of their home crowd. Without their Coach Javier Aguirre, who was caught dancing in his son’s wedding violating the COVID-19 protocol in the process, Monterrey will now face Columbus Crew in the Quarterfinals. Monterrey got an early lead and although the game was dominated by them, the crowd might have expected a better performance from the team although they should be happy with the team getting the job done in both legs.
The first half started with a crowd in the Monterrey stadium for the first time in 2021. Monterrey once again came in with an alternate squad led by Vincent Janssen and Dorlan Pabon. Two minutes in, Monterrey would have their first chance when Janssen got a low shot that forced a great save from Atletico Pantoja’s goalkeeper Odalis Baez. It wouldn’t take long for Monterrey to open the scoring. Off a corner kick, Luis Gustavo Sanchez rose alone to head a ball past Baez for the 1-0 lead. It was a terrible defensive display from Atletico Pantoja, who allowed him to easily rise and get a wide open header. Atletico Pantoja answered with a long range shot from Ernesto Trinidad that forced Monterrey’s goalkeper Luis Cardenas to make a great save. Monterrey came back almost immediately when Edson Gutierrez sent a ball into the area that found Vincent Janssen, who got a right footed shot that Baez got a hand to but couldn’t keep out and it went in to make it 2-0. Monterrey would come close again when a free kick by Pabon nearly went in but wound up just wide. Monterrey continued to dominate and had a couple of chances, but they weren’t as dangerous as before. It looked like Gutierrez got brought down in the area but no penalty kick was given. The halftime whistle blew, and Monterrey dominated but the score should have been more than only 2-0 lead they took to the locker room.
The second half came on with Monterrey trying to get more goals. Pabon had a good opportunity, but his shot was deflected into a corner kick. Monterrey made their first moves by subbing out Dorlan Pabon and Eric Cantu for Jesus Gallardo and Neder Hernandez. To the surprise of many, Atletico Pantoja would score when a great pass found Lisandro Cabrera, who got into the area and got a low right footed shot past Luis Cardenas to make it 2-1. The goal seemed to rattle Monterrey, who started to turn things up after being a little lackadaisical in the last minutes of the first half and early minutes in the second half. Because of an injury, Edson Gutierrez had to be subbed out for Stefan Medina while Monterrey also subbed out Jose Alvarado for Rogelio Funes Mori. Vincent Janssen had an incredible miss when a pass into the area went past Baez but instead of trying to shoot, Janssen tried to get the ball and it bounced of his right foot and out for a goal kick when he literally had a wide open net. Janssen made up for it when he got a ball in the area and then waited to give a perfect pass to Jesus Gallardo, who then got a left footed shot past Baez for the 3-1 lead. Gallardo then went and celebrated his score by doing the dance that Javier Aguirre did in the video of his son’s wedding. Monterrey them subbed out Jonathan Gonzalez for Jaziel Martinez. Monterrey continue to dominate but they were making lots of mistakes in their passes and thus not creating any danger against a tired Atletico Pantoja. The last minutes didn’t have an opportunity and the game ended with a 3-1 score.
Monterrey got a dominating win but fans and Monterrey probably expected better. The best example of this was the fact that Rogelio Funes Mori got subbed on as he needs one goal more to break the Monterrey record, which currently has him tied with Humberto “Chupete” Suazo. Yet Funes Mori wouldn’t even get a shot on goal in his time on the field. Still the important thing was getting the win even if the performance wasn’t as good as expected. With wins in both legs, Monterrey was able to get their ticket to the quarterfinal where they will have a tough rival in current MLS champions Columbus Crew, who also easily went past their rival Real Esteli. They will first have to turn their attention to Liga MX, when they stay in Monterrey to face Pachuca as they hope to close out the season by getting a spot in the Liguilla.