Monterrey draw first blood

Suazo strike gives Monterrey victory over Cruz Azul in first leg of Apertura Championship.

    Cruz Azul's Christian Riveros heads the ball to score but it was not enough to keep Monterrey from keeping the home advantage [AFP]

    Facing a 3-1 deficit at the end of the first half Monterrey pulled off an outstanding comeback to win the first leg of the Apertura Championship in Monterrey against favourites Cruz Azul 4-3.

    An own goal by Cruz Azul striker Emanuel Villa as he tried to clear a corner put the hosts in front after the first three minutes.

    However, Paraguayan Cristian Riveros fired home two headers in the next 15 minutes to put Cruz Azul ahead and Villa increased their lead past the half hour when he netted a loose ball in the box for his league-leading 19th goal.

    Monterrey wrested control from the visitors in the second half and Chile striker Humberto Suazo, who is reportedly on his way to English club Sunderland, reduced the arrears two minutes after the interval.

    Sergio Santana equalised with a header from a cross by Paraguayan Osvaldo Martinez with 19 minutes to go.

    Suazo struck the winner in the dying minutes when he poked the ball home after it was spilt by visiting keeper Jesus Corona under pressure from Martinez.

    'Great desire'

    "The players know that what they did is manly, with a lot of temperament and character," Monterrey coach Victor Vucetich said.

    "It was an extraordinary recovery by the squad and I must congratulate them for that, for their great desire to overcome (the odds)," he said.

    "Monterrey did enough to deserve the victory," conceded Cruz Azul coach Enrique Meza.

    "We lost the ball and there isn't a team that can withstand that.

    "We know we made mistakes but there are three days to go to the decisive match because this result isn't definitive."

    Cruz Azul, who are the fourth most successful team in Mexico with eight championships, will try to end a 12-year spell without a title on Sunday.

    They need to win the second leg to avoid their third loss in the Mexican final in the past four seasons.

    Monterrey are seeking their third championship and first since the 2003 Clausura.

    The second leg of the final will be played next Sunday at Estadio Azul in Mexico City.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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