Monterrey won its fourth CONCACAF Champions League title this decade and first since 2013, eking by local rival and fellow Liga MX side Tigres 2-1 on aggregate after Wednesday’s 1-1 tie.
As was the case in last week’s opener, defender Nicolás Sánchez was the difference-maker for the Rayados. The Argentine headed home the only goal in the first leg, and on Wednesday he struck from the penalty spot, sending keeper Nahuel Guzmán diving the wrong way after Rodolfo Pizarro had been chopped down inside the area:
¡¡GOOOOOOOOLLLLLL DE MONTERREYYYY!! Nico Sánchez desde los once paso abre el marcador para Monterrey@rayados 1-0 @Tigresoficial (2-0)— Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports) May 2, 2019
La #FinalRegia en @TheChampions EN VIVO 👉 https://t.co/m6r6JLgbHC pic.twitter.com/BWxwhKBzpz
The strike turned out to be the difference in the total-goals series, but not before Tigres mounted a furious comeback. That desperation from the visitors only grew in the second half. Manager Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti brought André-Pierre Gignac — who somehow didn’t start — on at the break, and the French striker immediately changed the game.
Suddenly Tigres had a dangerous edge up front to go with their huge possession advantage; in enemy territory, Tigres was on the ball more than twice as often as the hosts. And Gignac came this close to pulling one back for his team less than 10 minutes after entering the contest. Unfortunately for him, Marcelo Barovero was there to make the stop:
Tigres’ understandable sense of urgency left space in the back, though. On one of the rare instances when the ball turned over, Monterrey nearly took advantage to put the series away. Only the width of the crossbar prevented it from happening:
El poste le niega el tercer gol de Rayados de media cancha ¡¡Se la perdió!!@rayados 1-0 @Tigresoficial (2-0)— Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports) May 2, 2019
La #FinalRegia en @TheChampions EN VIVO 👉 https://t.co/m6r6JLgbHC pic.twitter.com/5QeajON9Qy
The hosts went close again on another quick counter with about a quarter-hour to go, but this time Guzman was there to make the stop:
Gignac always seemed likely to score, however. When the goal finally came with five minutes of regular time remaining, it was a thing of beauty, an acrobatic scissors-kick off the far post that left Barovero with no chance. But it proved to be too little, too late in the end:
¡¡QUÉ GOLAZOOOOOOOOOOO!! Gignac de volea marca el descuento… una verdadera obra de arte@rayados 1-1 @Tigresoficial (2-1)— Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports) May 2, 2019
La #FinalRegia en @TheChampions EN VIVO 👉 https://t.co/m6r6JLgbHC pic.twitter.com/70sShv1TgG
The triumph marked Monterrey’s first regional title since the Rayados won three straight between 2010-14. However, this win will not send Diego Alonso’s side back to the FIFA Club World Cup in 2019 as it had in previous years.
The controversial tournament, which FIFA president Gianni Infantino wants to expand beginning in 2021, has been put on hold until the format for that year’s competition is determined.
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