Club World Cup: Rayados dumped by Al Ahly

A dejected Maximiliano Meza lies on the field after Monterrey lost to Al Ahly on Saturday, Feb. 5. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
A dejected Maximiliano Meza lies on the field after Monterrey lost to Al Ahly on Saturday, Feb. 5. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images) /
Monterrey loses Al Ahly
Monterrey players trudge back to the center circle after Al Ahly scored in minute 53 of their Club World Cup match. (Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images) /

Concacaf champs Monterrey come up short

Monterrey will be returning from the Club World Cup with its tail between its legs after a drab performance against Egypt’s Al Ahly. The Rayados will take part in a consolation match on Feb. 9 so they’ll have four days to bemoan their shortcomings in Saturday’s 1-0 loss.

No doubt, Monterrey was battling fatigue as nine players arrived late to the United Arab Emirates due to international team duty (FIFA did the tournament no favors by scheduling right on the heels of a multi-game FIFA break), but Al Ahly simply played the better game.

The Rayados enjoyed the better of possession throughout (63%), but simply could not unlock the African champions’ defense. Despite outshooting Al Ahly 20-9, the Egyptian giants had more shots on goal (4-2).

The only shot that mattered in the end was the crisp volley from Mohamed Hany that pierced the middle of the net in minute 53. Hany’s goal finished off a smooth Al Ahly rush forward in which Ali Maaloul burst past Monterrey right back Erick Aguirre to the touch line with a change-of-pace dribble before zipping in a low cross.

Rayados goalie Esteban Andrada was able to deflect the centering pass but he inadvertently sent it into the path of the onrushing Hany and he made no mistake, blasting it home.

Monterrey was viewed as a favorite and had beaten the Red Devils in two previous Club World Cup meetings (the Rayados defeated Al Ahly 2-0 in the 2012 third-place match and crushed them 5-1 in the 2013 fifth-place match, the same irrelevant contest to which Monterrey has been relegated now).

In fact, much was made of the fact that a Palmeiras player admitted his team had never heard of the Rayados, and the aggrieved reaction from Monterrey backers reflected the notion that the Concacaf Champions would ease past the Egyptians. Now it is Al Ahly who will take on the Brazilian powerhouse in the semifinals.

Javier Aguirre’s men were inefficient in the offensive third and spacing was less than ideal throughout. Rarely did Monterrey exhibit smooth coordination between its lines and Al Ahly’s speed and quickness seemed to rattle the Mexican club, leading to turnovers that were swiftly tuned into counterattacks.

Striker Rogelio Funes Mori just missed with a low shot in minute 20 but he was kept under wraps thereafter. Aliou Dieng and Mohamed Magdy stood up strong in midfield and Monterrey playmakers demonstrated neither accuracy nor creativity.

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The Rayados were stymied by AlAhly’s solid positional defense and now they’ll sit and stew in Abu Dhabi until their Feb. 9 consolation match against the loser of Sunday’s Al Hilal-Al Jazira match. One wonders how coach Aguirre will approach that contest. Monterrey is off to a slow start in Liga MX (1-2-0, 5 goals for, 7 against), sitting in 8th place after three matches.