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Rayados avoid near tragedy in must-win game vs lowly Cruz Azul

Despite seeing the visitors come back from a 2-0 deficit, Monterrey managed to go back in front and hold on to the win.

Monterrey v Cruz Azul - Torneo Apertura 2022 Liga MX Photo by Alfredo Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images

In what was another wet and rainy Monterrey setting, Rayados and Cruz Azul met yesterday night in Estadio BBVA, with the former attempting to remain league-leaders and the latter fighting to get into Repechaje positioning. Stakes were high not only due to playoff implications, but also from this ever-growing rivalry in which we have grown accustomed to very good quality and high-scoring matches.

It was a tough start to say the least for the visitors, as within two minutes of the initial whistle, Corona had dove to stop a dangerous header on target and a controversial no-call penalty had already transpired. 5 minutes in, Berterame took a ball inside the box and had his shot blocked miraculously by a defender. Ten minutes later, Berterame himself received a pass on the right side of the box, turned and sent in a cross that escaped everyone, only to arrive perfectly to a wide open Gallardo who impacted it with the inside part of his left foot, making Corona’s dive irrelevant as Rayados took the lead. A botched wide open chance for Berterame and a long distance shot by Ponchito straight to Corona ensued as the home side kept the pressure on. To cap it off, Luis Romo attempted another long distance shot in the 28th minute which was deflected by the Funes twin (Ramiro) and got past Corona for the 2-0. Vucetich’s game plan was clear for the first half hour: don’t stop pressing and test Corona with the wet pitch.

However, just a couple minutes later and right on cue, Cruz Azul (who had accomplished nothing at that point) saw Rivero take the ball on the right side and sent in a cross looking for a wide open Rotondi who simply put his head on the ball with no pushback. Why Erick Aguirre let him get in front of him and create so much space is beyond me. And had the cross been meant for the man in front of Rotondi (Michael Estrada), he was also left wide open by Stefan Medina, so both were completely wide open in the typical ill-fated Vucetich zone coverage. At the end of the first half, due to the fact it was a stupendous score that was called back due to offside, I have to mention the beast of a player Rodrigo Aguirre showed he can be with that bicycle kick that left Corona static. So unfortunate it didn’t count.

The second half began with a 2-1 Rayados lead and seemingly simple task, as Cruz Azul hadn’t really showed any kind of resistance or danger. Three minutes in, a wide open Vegas was coming out of his own box with the ball, and having a wide open Gallardoto to his left, Medina to his right, and keeper Andrada behind him, chose to boot the ball aimlessly downfield, only to be easily intercepted by Lira, who one-touched the ball to Carlos Rodríguez with his chest, who then proceeded to feed an open Antuna, crossing a beauty of a shot out of the reach of an outstretched Andrada for the 2-2 equalizer. Another lack of focus / attitude mistake. Cruz Azul, having done near to nothing in this one, had come back from 2 goals down. Simply unexplainable.

Fortunately for Rayados, that nothing trend by Cruz Azul continued as they easily retook control of the match, and in the 65th minute, a smart juke by Berterame left him wide open in the half circle, where he simply pounded the ball to the bottom right corner of Corona, past the diving keeper for the definitive 3-2. Cruz Azul didn’t come close to scoring again. If anything, it was Rayados who could’ve extended the lead multiple times.

In the end, a good result for Vuce and his squad which keeps them tied with América (who have a game in hand) in 1st momentarily. The worrysome part here is the fact 15th placed Cruz Azul, without creating any danger, mustering 3 total shots all match, managed to come back from a 2-goal deficit, having done virtually nothing. Two gigantic mistakes by this vulnerable Rayados defense allowed the visitors to get back into it, and they were bailed out again by the raw talent of Berterame and Aguirre. But don’t be fooled, as they won’t have such an easy way out in the liguilla with the tougher teams. The results keep coming, but until I see convincing arguments, I can’t be sold on such an error-prone, attitude-lacking club.