After taking advantage of a huge defensive blunder by Vladimir Loroña, as well as an exquisite touch by Charly Rodríguez, Rayados found themselves up 0-2 in Tijuana after just over half an hour of play in Estadio Caliente. However, it wasn’t as smooth a game as it appeared. During that time, Tijuana presented itself with at least four dangerous approaches on the Monterrey goal, none of which ended up in the back of the net. The most dangerous of them all coming in the 27th minute, when Lucas Rodríguez took control of the ball and drove it all the way down Rayados’ right flank, where Sergio Villarreal proved incapable of competing with the speedster, ending in Christian Rivera’s bullet shot inside the box that was miraculously and superbly deflected by keeper Andrada. But that luck wouldn’t stay with them the rest of the match.
In fact, just 120 seconds after Charly Rodriguez’s quality strike, Lucas Rodríguez sent a perfect pass through Rayados’ penalty box, received at the other end by Loroña, who made up for his earlier mistake by punching the ball in off the crossbar, barely crossing the goal-line, making the score 1-2. As if that wasn’t enough, in first half stoppage time, it was Kranevitter who made the marking mistake, as he lost Brayan Angulo who should’ve made a better reception for a more simpler shot inside the 6-yard box. The Argentine midfielder got lucky he didn’t cost his team a goal.
12 minutes into the second half, Stefan Medina and Sergio Villarreal had a communication mishap, as they both attacked Lucas Rodríguez from ill-advised angles, who easily split them and made his way into the box, firing a wide open shot straight to where Andrada was waiting to deflect to a corner. A few minutes later, another Rayados defensive mishap which resulted in a beautifully crossed shot in the back of the net by Fidel Martínez, which to Monterrey’s fortune, got checked by VAR for a possible foul which was later confirmed. With 15 minutes left in the match, somehow Medina and Vegas were left man-to-man (completely unacceptable with a lead at that point in the match) against Martínez and Manotas, which ended in an outside Manotas shot to the bottom corner, hitting the post and heading out for a goal kick. Finally, in the 82nd minute of action, the inevitable; CB Yonattan Rak received an air ball near midfield and was allowed entry until just outside the box, where he found a wide open Mauro Manotas, who with nobody on him, turned around easily and fired a shot into the bottom-right corner, past a diving Andrada to even things up at 2.
Not to mention, a free kick by Fidel Martínez in the 90th + 3 minute which whistled right by Andrada’s left post. Yes, Aguirre’s gameplan was conservative. Yes, they could’ve tried to be more agressive on the attack. And for others out there, yes, Tijuana does have a certain level of quality to them where every single game this season has been a nail-biter. They just haven’t gotten that first win yet (0W, 3D, 4L). But in the end, it’s the injuries that weighed Aguirre’s squad down in this one.
Rayados haven’t had their complete squad one single day yet, and they’ve still managed to avoid losing a match (2W, 5D, 0L). Without Héctor Moreno, Erick Aguirre, Vincent Janssen, a suspended César Montes, and with three banged-up players on the pitch (Rogelio Funes Mori, Duván Vergara, Joel Campbell), it’s never an easy task to win. Not to mention, Edson Gutiérrez subbed out at the 7th minute because of, yes, you guessed it, an injury. He was forced to experiment with Villarreal and Parra down low and didn’t have a healthy attack.
Despite lacking attitude and intensity last night, you’ve gotta give Aguirre credit. He’s managed to get thtrough these games without a loss. True, they’ve been manageable games where the rivals don’t require much out of you, but it’s still an accomplishment with that many key starters missing. It’s still too soon to judge ‘El Vasco’ on this season’s performance. And as long as they continue to avoid losing, more power to him. Up next for Tijuana is a visit from Santos, while Monterrey will be back on the road at Atlas in a couple weeks, with the 2022 WC Qualifiers taking place next week.