Monterrey Takes the CCL Title Over Santos

Goals aplenty in the second leg of the CCL Final
by Brendan Doherty   |   Friday, May 03, 2013

 MEX Matters - column on Liga MX, El Tri & Mexican futbol.

The two-legged final of North America's continental club competition, the CONCACAF Champions League, featured a repeat of last year's match-up. Santos Laguna faced off against Monterrey again for the crown of CONCACAF and the ticket to the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco from December 11 to 21.

And it was Monterrey, in surprising fashion, that took the CCL title for the third time in a row after a late-game comeback against Santos.

Santos Laguna was the favorites going into the final due to its form in Liga MX, but Monterrey proved to have a special connection with the competition that it has now won 3 times in a row.

The victory was Monterrey's 3rd-consecutive continental title, which matches Cruz Azul's record in the easier Champion's Cup from 1969 to 1971. Wednesday's trophy was the second in a row over Santos.

When Santos grabbed a goal through Darwin Quintero after a quick break in the first half, things looked dim for Monterrey. And then once Felipe Baloy doubled Santos' advantage 5 minutes after the break on a corner kick from Osmar Mares, Monterrey's task looked nearly impossible.

Because of the away goal rule, Monterrey had to score at least 3 goals over the next 40 minutes plus stoppage time. The scoreless first leg was a missed chance for Santos, but the team seemed to surge away from home.

Playing in front of a home crowd at the Estadio Tecnológica in Monterrey, Aldo de Nigris opened the scoring for his team in the 60th minute. Jesus Corona, who was strong all night, sent in a dangerous cross from the right flank and de Nigris knocked his shot past Santos goalkeeper Oswaldo Sánchez with one-touch.

Neri Cardozo knotted the game up in the 84th minute from the edge of the area after a failed clearance by Santos's defense, but Monterrey still needed another goal.

As Humberto Suazo lined up a long distance free kick in the dying minutes of the match, Monterrey knew it needed something special. It was de Nigris who rose to the occasion, meeting the service with a snap header on goal.

Santos tried to battle back after giving up a 2 away goal lead, but it was exposed while throwing men forward. Suazo underlined Monterrey's victory with a goal from close range created by a counter attacking cross from the left side in the second minute of stoppage time to take the 4-2 decision.

Suazo's stoppage time goal was his fifth in CCL finals, a CONCACAF record, and was his 16th total in the competition, good enough for 3rd all-time.

Not all the plaudits belong to Monterrey however, as Santos Laguna forward Darwin Quintero snagged the Golden Boot award with his 6 goals this campaign. The Golden Ball award went to de Negris, the competition’s MVP due to a solid tournament highlighted by his 2-goal performance in the final.

Fruitless in the first leg

Played at the Estadio Corona in Torreón, the first leg of the final was largely anticlimactic. Both teams started well and there was a goal scoring chance at either end thanks to Suazo and Oribe Peralta, respectively. Despite playing in front of thousands of home fans, Santos Laguna could not take the game to Monterrey and the visiting Rayados were largely the better team on the night.

The match was very physical with 5 yellow cards issued in the first half. That physicality would continue and prove damaging for each team in the second half.

Mexican international Peralta was stretchered off for Santos with an injury after a hard challenge with a Monterrey defender in the 50th minute. About 16 minutes later, Monterrey midfielder César Delgado was dismissed by referee Francisco Chacón for a reckless tackle in the center of the field.

Given the fact that Monterrey had to play 24 minutes of regulation with 10 men and that Santos went into the match with a 19-1-1 record at home in CCL, I wouldn't have expected a 0-0 draw. However, the quality of finishing was low and the form of both goalkeepers.

But it wouldn’t matter, as both teams upped the scoring in the second leg and Monterrey celebrated its third straight win.

Brendan DOHERTY

Nationality:
USA
College:
Hamilton College
Club Domestic:
Rochester Rhinos, RBNY
Club Foreign:
Tottenham, Club América
Household Jeopardy champion from a small town in Upstate New York. Simultaneously brought to Tottenham Hotspur by a youth coach & given a copy of FIFA 2004. Enthusiastically pragmatic & a student of the game. Covering the Mexican National Team & Liga MX.
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