The host Rayados looked sharp, patient with the ball and displaying great coordination between lines and linemates. The discipline on defense was equally impressive. Monterrey outshot Puebla 22-7, but the Camoteros are a very poised team … they don’t beat themselves.
The lone goal of the match came in minute 30 off a corner kick. Monterrey skipper Stefan Medina pounced on a loose ball at the back post and blasted home a left-footer for his second goal of the season, just one off his career high (Apertura 2017).
Three minutes after the break, “Mochis” Cárdenas made a spectacular sprawling save to preserve the Rayados’ slim 1-0 lead and keep Monterrey atop the Liga MX table with 12 points after five games.
Tigres, Toluca keep pace
Toluca and Tigres – Monterrey’s crosstown rivals – won road games to stay even with the Rayados at 4-0-1. Tigres defeated FC Juárez 1-0 thanks to late first-half heroics from Andre-Pierre Gignac, the reigning Liga MX scoring champion.
Miguel Herrera’s side was forced to play “prevent defense” the final half-hour after Luis Quiñones was red-carded for a reckless challenge on former teammate Jesús Dueñas. The host Bravos dominated possession thereafter but failed to get any real good looks at net and the visiting Tigres escaped with their fourth straight victory.
In León, Toluca had to feel like it stole 3 points despite playing with a man advantage for the final 40 minutes. The host Esmeraldas were all over the pitch in the first half, swarming on defense and flowing forward constantly on offense. León outshot Toluca 8-1 but entered the locker room at halftime in a scoreless draw.
Rodolfo Cota kept it that way with two brilliant saves in minute 49 as Toluca suddenly came to life in the second half. Just 3 minutes later, “La Fiera” was down to 10 men after Fidel Ambriz – son of Toluca coach Ignacio Ambriz – was harshly judged to have stamped on former teammate Jean Meneses and shown a second yellow card.
Just as the clock ticked 90, substitute Daniel Álvarez nimbly brought down a lofted lead pass from Leo Fernández and one-timed a left-footer past Cota to give the Diablos Rojos a 1-0 win.
Other Liga MX action
Elsewhere across the league, visiting Tijuana stunned Atlas 2-1 while Cruz Azul and Atlético de San Luis battled to a 0-0 tie.
With the victory over Liga MX champions Atlas, the lowly Xolos have strung together two huge upsets. On Saturday, Tijuana shocked América 2-0 and now the border team sits in 6th place with 7 points.
The result in San Luis leaves both the Tuneros and the Cementeros adrift in the middle of the Liga MX table. Cruz Azul and Atleti have 5 points apiece, with Cruz Azul one spot ahead in 12th thanks to its superior goal-scoring record (8 goals compared to just 3 for San Luis).
Notes: Toluca and León met in the final game of the Apertura 2022 season with each team in need of a victory to make the Liga MX playoffs. Fans at the Camp Nou back on May 1 were treated to 90-minute thriller that ended in a 4-4 draw, satisfying neither team, as neither qualified for a wildcard spot. Tuesday night’s match at the same venue had the same intensity and offensive effort, but both teams were profligate in front of net.