Cruz Azul wins the Copa MX Apertura 2018 behind goals from Hernandez and Cauteruccio.
Neither side fielded their full-strength starting eleven. Both had to keep an eye on the Liga MX Liguilla fights they’ll be in this weekend. The Copa MX didn’t disappoint, regardless.
Los Cementeros started Guillermo Allison in-goal. Ichor Lichnovosky and Julio Dominguez slid into the starting back-four and Milton Caraglio started up front with Misael Dominguez in the midfield to round out the changes to their normal eleven. Elias Hernandez and Roberto Alvarado still started however, and Hernandez made his presence known.
Monterrey trotted out a lineup with Juan Pablo Carrizo in-goal, along with Johan Vasquez, Daniel Lajud, Carlos Rodriguez, Celso Ortiz, Jesus Gallardo, and Rogelio Funes Mori rounding out the changes from the lineup that started against Santos Laguna last Saturday.
Fuens Mori would have a glorious chance early on, but a Cruz Azul defender got a body on it enough to deflect the shot away from the Cruz Azul goal. Monterrey had most of the chances in the fist 30 minutes of the match, but Los Cementeros were up to the task. Blocking shots and clearing the ball away from danger.
Then, just as the match went into the 35th minute, a cross into the box missed its intended target, but found its way to the feet of Elias Hernandez. The 30-year-old took a shot that was marked for the far-post but a Monterrey defender trying to clear the ball off the line ended up deflecting it just under the bar to give Cruz Azul the lead.
Monterrey looked like they had tied the game in the 41st minute, when Daniel Lajud smashed home a rebound off a shot from the left of the Cruz Azul keeper. Unfortunately, Lajud was only just offside on the initial shot, and the equalizer was called off. The two sides would go into the locker room with Cruz Azul leading 1-0.
Coming out for the second half, Cruz Azul made the lone change, with Martin Cauteruccio coming on for Milton Caraglio. Monterrey continued to pressure Cruz Azul but again, it was Los Cementeros who would find the back of the net.
Roberto Alvarez took a pass outside the 18-yard box and tapped it to Elias Hernandez, making a smart run towards the goal to the left of Alvarado. Hernandez would draw Carrizo too far to the left leaving the far side of the goal wide-open. Hernandez then made the heads-up decision to slide the ball over to the recently-subbed-on Cauteruccio for an easy goal in the 53rd minute.
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Monterrey would continue to pressure and get the better of the run of play, but despite nine total shots, nine total corner kicks and 57% possession in the match, they couldn’t find any goals.
Los Rayados had one more great chance in the 61st minute, with a shot that hit the cross-bar, but again, it was offside.
Despite the loss, Monterrey’s Juan Pablo Carrizo made a number of good-looking plays to keep Cruz Azul from winning by more, including a nice breakout off a cross in the 73rd minute.
For me, Elias Hernandez was clearly the man of the match with his goal and beauty of an assist. Hernandez and Cruz Azul now turn their attention to Sunday, when they’ll take on Pumas UNAM, who sit just one point behind them in the Liga MX table.
Monterrey will try to put the loss behind them and take care of business at home against bottom-of-the-table Veracruz on Saturday night.