Monterrey edges Tigres in CONCACAF Champions League final opener

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Nicolas Sanchez gave Monterrey a one-goal aggregate lead over Tigres in Tuesday's all-Mexican CONCACAF Champions League final first leg. (Julio Cesar Aguilar/Getty)
Nicolas Sanchez gave Monterrey a one-goal aggregate lead over Tigres in Tuesday's all-Mexican CONCACAF Champions League final first leg. (Julio Cesar Aguilar/Getty)

Monterrey beat fellow Liga MX powerhouse Tigres 1-0 in the first leg of the all-Mexican 2019 CONCACAF Champions League final.

The Rayados got the only goal of Tuesday’s opener from Argentine defender Nicolás Sánchez two minutes before halftime at Estadio Universitario, putting them in position to win the regional club title when the second and decisive leg of the total goals series commences May 1 at BBVA Bancomer Stadium in Monterrey.

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Sánchez rose to meet Dorlan Pabón’s corner kick, powerfully heading Tuesday’s winner past Tigres keeper Nahuel Guzmán:

Monterrey’s strike was no accident. The visitors carved out the bulk of the scoring chances over the first 45 minutes. Moments before Sánchez’s goal, he hit Guzman’s post from just outside the 18-yard box:


Forced to chase the game, Tigres was the better team in the second half. In a predictably chippy affair in which the teams combined for 36 fouls, the hosts controlled an astounding 71 percent of possession by the time it was over. Tigres had plenty of chances to equalize, too, but keeper Marcelo Barovero stood tall.

First he stopped Rafael Carioca’s blast through traffic:

Four minutes later Barovero made an even better save with his fingertips to keep his team ahead:

The hosts would get two more golden chances to score. But a wide-open Guido Pizarro could only send his header wide:

Second half substitute André-Pierre Gignac got one final look in stoppage time, but once again Barovero was able to snuff out the opportunity.

Monterrey is looking for its first CONCACAF Champions League title since winning three in a row from 2011-13. Tigres, which currently sits second in the Liga MX standings, four points above the Rayados, has never won the regional championship. They lost in the final in 2016 and 2017 to América and Pachuca respectively.

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