Last-Second Bicycle Kick Decides Liga MX Final First Leg
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After doing CONCACAF proud with a third place finish at the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar, Monterrey finally returned home to contest the first leg of the Liga MX Apertura final on Thursday night. Coming off four games in ten days in Qatar, it was always going to be a test of Rayados’ fortitude against a Club América side that hadn’t played a match in over two and a half weeks.
For nearly the entirety of the first half, both teams struggled to find their rhythm on the pitch of Estadio BBVA, although América’s desire for shit-on-a-stick football was tactical whereas Monterrey’s was a piece of sadism.
But with half time approaching, América’s approach was vindicated when a direct free kick exposed Monterrey’s backline. The ball was played long but directly to the feet of Henry Martín, who promptly released Federico Viñas on goal.
His effort beat the goalkeeper but should’ve certainly been cleared by one of two Monterrey players in the area. However, Charlie Rodríguez could only direct his defensive effort into his own goal.
If that moment of action seemed like a minor miracle to the audience, what transpired next was pure fantasy. Immediately following the opener, Dorlan Pabón sent a 40-yard free kick directly onto the head of Rodríguez at the top of the area. The villain immediately turned hero by flicking it through to Stefan Medina for the easy finish.
It was a bang-bang play with a lot of bodies in the area, so the linesman simply guessed that Medina had been offside at some point; it was an impossible call really. This is why the VAR is a good thing — Medina wasn’t and the goal was correctly given.
GOL de @Rayados.
Medina logra el empate antes del descanso. El #VAR salvó una jugada que no era fuera de juego. #Rayados vs #ClubAmerica, final de #FOXLigaMX AHORA en #FOXDeportes pic.twitter.com/zJf0hNHzc9
The next major incident again involved the VAR and it again punished América. This time, it was Sebastián Córdova who was given his marching orders for stomping on an opponent.
ROJA para Córdova. @ClubAmerica se queda con 10 tras una revisión en el #VAR por un planchazo. #FOXLigaMX, FINAL en VIVO por #FOXDeportes. @SirJohnLaguna @RaoulPolloOrtiz @RodolfoLanderos @marianot19 @pulpozuniga @emperadorsuarez @alejadelgadillo pic.twitter.com/g2IQMXtkoE
Despite having a man-advantage for 40 minutes, Monterrey couldn’t find the breakthrough. That was because of keeper Memo Ochoa, who saved from Pabón before pulling off a miracle save on Vincent Janssen in the first minute of second half stoppage time.
The 1-1 scoreline looked to be preserved heading back to the Azteca on Sunday…
OCHOOOOAAAAAA.... OCHOOOOAAAAAAA.... OOOOOOOCHOOOOOAAAAAA.... #FOXLigaMX en #FOXDeportes @SirJohnLaguna @RaoulPolloOrtiz @RodolfoLanderos @emperadorsuarez @pulpozuniga @marianot19 @alejadelgadillo pic.twitter.com/hhp2RuJG5p
But in the third minute of stoppage time, Rogelio Funes Mori. Enjoy.
GOLAZO de FUNES MORI
Golazo para @Rayados, una obra de arte en la final de #FOXLigaMX en #FOXDeportes. @SirJohnLaguna @RaoulPolloOrtiz @RodolfoLanderos @emperadorsuarez @pulpozuniga @marianot19 @alejadelgadillo pic.twitter.com/yaPmP5BmrH
The second leg of the final is at the Estadio Azteca on Sunday, Dec. 29 at 9:15 p.m. ET.