Rayados win as Vangioni converts winning penalty kick

Monterrey players celebrate with the trophy after winning the Apertura 2019 title in a penalty shoot-out over América. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images)
Monterrey players celebrate with the trophy after winning the Apertura 2019 title in a penalty shoot-out over América. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images) /

The Rayados of Monterrey claimed their fifth Liga MX title from the penalty spot, fighting back after a dreadful first half to force overtime.

Monterrey left back Leonel Vangioni converted the trophy-winning penalty kick, sending Memo Ochoa the wrong way to give the Rayados a 4-2 shoot-out win after a spectacular 120 minutes of high intensity action.

América dominated long stretches of the first half and had Monterrey on its heels, heading into the locker room with a 2-0 lead, and ahead 3-2 on aggregate. But the Aguilas squandered several opportunities that might have iced the series during the first 45 minutes.

Rayados win
Richard Sánchez put América ahead 2-0 (3-2 aggregate) with a brilliant goal in minute 40. (Photo by Cesar Gomez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

The Rayados regained their composure and wrested control of the game from América during the second half. The inclusion of second striker Vincent Janssen in place of the ineffective Rodolfo Pizarro helped tilt the field Monterrey’s way.

Monterrey peppered Ochoa (7 second-half shots, 4 on goal) and buzzed around the goalmouth. But América’s defense held their ground and turned possessions into rushes upfield with outlet passes. Both teams played with high intensity and Monterrey’s frustration began to mount just past the hour mark.

The Rayados goal came out of nowhere. Vangioni sent a long diagonal pass forward from his own defensive third and Aguilas right back Jorge Sánchez butchered it.

The defender got between the bouncing ball and Dorlan Pabón while facing his own net about 10 meters outside the box. He then swung his right foot and whiffed, falling to the ground. Pabón gathered the ball, stopped to survey the field, then slid a pass behind Emanuel Aguilera to Rogelio Funes Mori who had split the central defenders, sneaking in behind Aguilera. Funes Mori timed his run perfectly, meeting the ball at the top of the goalie box and sweeping it past Ochoa with his right foot.

The score was 2-1 América in minute 75, 3-3 on aggregate. Monterrey continued pressing forward in search of the winner. Funes Mori had a scoring chance just 2 minutes later but fired into the side netting from a sharp angle with Janssen alone at the opposite post. Pabón scuffed another opportunity in minute 83.

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Early in the first overtime period, Funes Mori fired high from the top of the box. In minute 98, Funes Mori was at it again, chasing down a long lead pass then feeding Janssen inside the box. The Dutchman turned quickly to shoot but was stuffed by Aguilera.

América midfielder Nico Benedetti had a chance to play the hero just seconds into the second overtime period, but shot just wide. Charlie Rodríguez skimmed the top of the crossbar with a volley following a wonderful individual effort by Maxi Meza along the touchline.

América forward Federico Viñas banged a header off the crossbar with a minute remaining then Monterrey keeper Marcelo Barovero came up big seconds later. Sub Gio dos Santos blasted a shot from close range that the veteran goalie blocked.

Rayados win
Carlos Rodríguez (left) earned Man of the Match consideration with his all-field coverage and game-long offensive contributions. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images) /

Barovero then blocked América’s first penalty kick (by Nico Castillo), but Ochoa stopped the next shot (by Stefan Medina) with a lunging save. Funes Mori put the Rayados up 2-1 in the shootout but Guido Rodríguez popped his shot over the crossbar. Nico Sánchez made it 3-1 Monterrey, but Dos Santos narrowed the gap to 3-2 with one shot remaining for each team.

Vangioni made América’s final turn unnecessary, calmly sending a low skimmer to the left as Ochoa dived right. The goal was sweet vindication for the Argentine who missed the second leg of Monterrey’s previous Finals appearance (a loss to the Tigres) after picking up a red card in the first leg.