Monterrey takes out Liga MX champs to reach CCL final

Maxi Meza (left) celebrates after scoring the first goal of the match to give Monterrey a 2-0 aggregate lead against Cruz Azul. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)
Maxi Meza (left) celebrates after scoring the first goal of the match to give Monterrey a 2-0 aggregate lead against Cruz Azul. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images) /
Monterrey CCL Liga MX
Referee César Ramos and his crew walk off the Estadio Azteca pitch in minute 65 after suspending the Concacaf Champions League semifinal between Cruz Azul and Monterrey due to repeated discriminatory insults from the fans. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images) /

Monterrey advanced to the finals of the Concacaf Champions League on the back of an explosive first-half display against reigning Liga MX champs Cruz Azul. Unfortunately, the game was marred by multiple second-half suspensions after fans revived a detestable homophobic chant.

The Rayados will face América at home in Estadio BBVA Bancomer on Oct. 28. The game will be a rematch of the Apertura 2019 Liga MX Finals won by Monterrey.

Maxi Meza (7’), Duvan Vergara (17’) and Rogelio Funes Mori (24’) found the net for the visitors, sending the Rayados to the locker room with a 4-1 aggregate advantage (Monterrey won the first leg 1-0 at home back on Aug. 11). The high-priced northern team finally showed glimpses of the offensive fireworks expected of them since Javier Aguirre took over in January.

Despite the body blows they received, the Cementeros did not surrender without a fight. Orbelín Pineda scored in minute 10 and nearly got on another in minute 41. Funes Mori finally took the wind out of their sails in minute 52, banging home his second of the night.

Monterrey sat back on defense the remainder of the game, taking home a 4-1 victory, advancing to the CCL final on a 5-1 aggregate score-line.

The high-quality performances by the two Liga MX powerhouses was not matched by the officials. Ref César Ramos showed a predilection for Monterrey in the early stages, showing Cruz Azul’s best player (Luis Romo) a yellow for a generic foul in minute 5, then whistling Pablo Aguilar for a transgression when he was the one actually victimized.

Midway through the first half, the officials conspired to make a controversial interpretation of the offside rule to authorize Funes Mori’s first goal (making it 4-1 on aggregate).

Cruz Azul defender Ignacio Rivero made a sliding block of a pass toward Vergara who was clearly offside. The deflection went straight to Funes Mori who ripped a shot past a sprawling Sebastián Jurado. After consulting with VAR, Ramos determined Rivero’s decision to make a play on the ball erased the offside call.

Shortly thereafter, frustrated Cruz Azul fans revived the detestable homophobic chant that has plagued Mexican stadiums (as well as stadiums in the United States when El Tri plays abroad). The discriminatory jeering continued into the second half, resulting in two one-minute suspensions. When the chant was heard yet again, both teams were sent to their locker rooms for a 10-minute suspension of play.

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