The first-half was a hard-fought affair, with more fouls – 18 of them – than goal-scoring chances. Monterrey looked more dangerous in possession, but when the opening goal came, it was for the visitors. Late in the half, Henry Martín played Federico Viñas in on goal; with Marcelo Barovero beaten, the unfortunate Carlos Rodríguez mis-hit an intended clearance to send the ball into his own net. His own-goal made it 0-1 for the Águilas in the 44th minute.
It looked like América would take the lead into halftime, but instead Monterrey found an immediate response. John Stefan Medina finished off a free kick in first-half stoppage time to make it 1-1; the assistant originally flagged it offside, but after VAR review, referee Luis Enrique Santander awarded the goal and the game was tied.
The second half soon took another turn for the worse from América’s perspective as Sebastián Córdova was sent off in the 53rd minute for a bad tackle on Leonel Vangioni, leaving the visitors to see out the rest of the game with 10 men.
Despite their numerical advantage, Monterrey struggled to create dangerous opportunities. It seemed like América would be able to sit back, defend, and go into Sunday’s second leg with it all level.
But Monterrey increased the intensity as time wore on, and the insertion of Vincent Janssen gave them an extra dimension up top. In stoppage time, Janssen very nearly gave the Rayados the lead, only to be stopped by an inspired Guillermo Ochoa.
But Memo could do nothing moments later when Rogelio Funes Mori brought the ball down off his chest and threw himself into a bicycle kick to make it 2-1 with his golazo.
With the 2-1 win, Monterrey will claim the title with a win or draw in Sunday’s second leg, while América will need to win by one goal to send it to extra time or by two to take the title outright. There are no tiebreakers in the final.