Cruz Azul has advanced to the Apertura 2018 Liga MX final after beating Monterrey 1-0 in the second leg of their semifinal series. The 1-0 Cruz Azul win tied the aggregate series score at 1-1; with away goals equal at zero apiece, La Máquina advanced with the higher seed tiebreaker.
It was not an easy victory for Cruz Azul, who were obligated to win this leg after losing on Wednesday night. They came out attacking but were unable to find the breakthrough, while Monterrey suffered a blow with the loss of Roldofo Pizarro to injury in the 36th minute.
Shortly before that, La Máquina had a golden opportunity to take the lead after Nicolás Sánchez was called for a foul in the box against Roberto Alvarado. Milton Caraglio stepped up to take the penalty, but he failed to convert it as he missed the target entirely.
In the second half, Cruz Azul finally found the goal they needed. In the 54th minute, Adrián Aldrete tried his luck from long range; Marcelo Barovero made the initial save but gave up a big rebound, which Caraglio finished off to make it 1-0.
The goal was originally disallowed for offside, but after consulting with VAR, referee Fernando Guerrero ruled it good.
Despite taking the lead, Cruz Azul was unable to relax as Monterrey began to push hard for a goal. If the Rayados had managed to score, Cruz Azul would have needed to score two more goals of their own due to the away goals tiebreaker.
But despite a few close calls, Monterrey couldn’t score on the league’s best defense, and the 1-0 result was enough to put the superlíderes into the final for the first time since 2013.
Cruz Azul will face the winner of the Clásico Capitalino semifinal series between América and Pumas UNAM.