Rayados win ConcaChampions, 16 in a row for Liga MX

The Rayados of Monterrey celebrate with the Concacaf Champions League trophy after defeating América 1-0 in the final. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)
The Rayados of Monterrey celebrate with the Concacaf Champions League trophy after defeating América 1-0 in the final. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images) /
Liga MX CCL final Rayados
Rogelio Funes Mori was Johnny-on-the-spot after Sebastián Cáceres (on ground) failed to clear a cross. Guillermo Ochoa was left helpless. The two Liga MX rivals were playing in the Concacaf Champions League Final. (Photo by Alfredo Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

Rogelio Funes Mori took advantage of a Sebastián Cáceres error to score the only goal Monterrey would need to claim its second Concacaf Champions League crown in three years.

Just 9 minutes in, Cáceres mishit a clearance attempt in front of goal and the ball ended up at the feet of Funes Mori who was all alone at the back post. The El Tri striker slotted home with ease and a feisty Rayados defense protected the slim advantage from there on out, surviving a late VAR review of a potential penalty.

Monterrey started the game on the front foot, pressuring the Liga MX-leading Aguilas from the opening whistle. The Rayados came into the ConcaChampions Final on a four-game Liga MX losing streak, but looked focused for the first 20 minutes of the contest.

Charlie Rodríguez squandered a golden opportunity to put Monterrey in front in minute 3 and Funes Mori came close a couple minutes later.

All-Liga MX Final features tense finish

América was getting overrun in midfield – sorely missing the injured Pedro Aquino – but found its footing around the half-hour mark. Alvaro Fidalgo made several elusive runs into América’s offensive third, but César Montes and Héctor Moreno were all class in the middle of the Rayados defense.

Aguilas playmaker Sebastián Córdova was inserted to start the second half (no doubt, coach Santiago Solari will be questioned for not starting the bronze medal winner) but the América No. 10 was unable to make an imprint on the match.

América – winner of a record seven ConcaChampions – was able to tilt the field a bit in the second half, but never managed to get a good look at goal. In fact, the Aguilas got only three shots on target all game. Montes alone must have headed clear at least a dozen América crosses while Rodríguez and Celso Ortiz tackled anything wearing yellow.

During the 9 minutes of added time, América threw everything except the kitchen sink forward, winning a couple free kicks from dangerous distance. With the added time winding down, a Córdova centering pass was redirected off the crossbar and into a scrum of legs. Antonio López ripped a volley from 8 meters that ricocheted off Maxi Meza’s leg, then the ground, then Meza’s backside and off his arm before squibbing out of bounds.

After a 3-minute delay – Liga MX official Fernando Hernández first discussed the play with his VAR partners before jogging over to the video screen to study the replay. The ref then trotted back onto the field and waved off the potential penalty and whistled the game to an end, sending the sell-out crowd in Monterrey’s Estadio BBVA Bancomer into a frenzy.

Liga MX streak continues

Monterrey’s win marked the 16th consecutive Concacaf Champions League tournament won by a Liga MX team. The last time a non-Liga MX team won the CCL was in 2005 when Costa Rica’s Saprissa defeated UNAM in the final.

Since Concacaf instituted the current Champions League format in 2008, only Liga MX teams have hoisted the trophy. In those 13 years, this was the ninth time that both finalists were Liga MX teams.

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The CCL title is Monterrey’s fifth (only behind América – 7, and Cruz Azul – 6) and the Rayados are a perfect 5-0 in CCL finals, winning all five since 2011. América had never lost a CCL Final before this year.