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CONCACAF Champions League: Monterrey downs Cruz Azul in semis opener

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Maximiliano Meza netted the only goal of the match as Monterrey edged Cruz Azul 1-0 on Wednesday in Guadalupe, Mexico, in the first leg of CONCACAF Champions League semifinal series.

Meza’s tally in the game’s ninth minute held up in the opener of the two-game, total-goals series between the Mexican clubs.

With the victory, Monterrey owns the advantage over Cruz Azul heading into their rematch next month on Sept. 16. The aggregate winner will advance into the final on Oct. 28.

The decisive score came quickly for Monterrey. Star striker Rogelio Funes Mori nearly broke the ice himself on a header that was deflected by Cruz Azul goalkeeper Andres Gudiño off the crossbar. But Monterrey kept possession and after a reset, Carlos Rodriguez sent a cross into the box, finding the opportunistic Meza for a head-ball snipe and a 1-0 advantage.

Funes Mori nearly bested his national teammate Gudiño in the 69th minute on another header effort, but the keeper was up to the task. Gudiño made three saves in defeat.

Cruz Azul started celebrating what they thought was a tying goal in the 64th minute, but Orbelin Pineda was correctly ruled to be offsides.

While Cruz Azul won the possession battle, owning the ball 53 percent of the match, Monterrey produced more offense with 15 shots to five for Cruz Azul. Monterrey also had all three of the corner kicks in the match.

In the other semifinal, the MLS’ Philadelphia Union travel to face Club America Thursday in Mexico City in the first of their two-leg series. The second leg will be played on Sept. 15 in Chester, Pa.

–Field Level Media

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