A stoppage-time goal by Roberto Firmino gave Liverpool a 2-1 victory against Monterrey in the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup semifinals.
The UEFA champions were the heavy favorites going into this one – despite a number of absences due to injury and illness – but Monterrey made them work hard for their victory. While Liverpool had the majority of possession early, a makeshift back line let the Rayados through several times on the counter, albeit without an end product.
Monterrey scored late in stoppage time to beat Necaxa 1-0 on the right and assure their spot in the Gran Final with a 3-1 aggregate victory. The Rayados’ win means there will be an adjustment to the playoff schedule, since they’ll be playing in the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup next week; as a result, the Liga MX final will be delayed by two weeks and played on December 26th and 29th.
The pressure was on Necaxa in this one; they needed to score to advance, while Monterrey would go through with a 0-0 draw. Nevertheless, it was the visitors who looked more dangerous in the attack. In the 14th minute, Jesús Gallardo was denied by the offside flag as Monterrey looked to seal the series.
While both teams finished the first leg of this semifinal series with 10 men, Morelia had a numerical advantage for most of the second half and they made it count as they grabbed a 2-0 victory against América.
Morelia came out attacking as they looked to make their home-field advantage count, and they had some early chances, most notably when Edison Flores tested Memo Ochoa in the 8th minute. Then, in the 16th, Rodrigo Millar played Luis Mendoza in behind the defense; he drove towards goal and then slid the ball across the top of the six-yard box for Fernando Aristeguieta, who stabbed it home.
Monterrey took, lost, and regained the lead as they beat Necaxa 2-1 in the first leg of their Apertura 2019 semifinal series.
Necaxa had the best road record in the league in the regular season – with six wins from nine games – and they came out attacking as they looked to keep their good road form going in this one. But after a promising five minutes from the Rayos, Monterrey took control of the game and they took the lead in the 10th minute.
Tigres UANL scored a last-second equalizer to tie América 2-2 and send this semifinal to a penalty shootout; the universitarios then bested the Águilas 5-3 from the spot to earn their place in the final of the inaugural Leagues Cup.
Tigres started the game on the front foot, and their attacking pressure soon paid off. In the 14th minute, Jürgen Damm got past Jesús López on the wing and sent a low cross into the box. The unfortunate Paul Aguilar sent the ball into the back of his own net when he tried to cut out the cross, making it 0-1 for Tigres with his own-goal.
The new inter-league competition between Liga MX and MLS continues this week with the semifinal round. Just four teams from each league are competing this year, although expansion for 2020 has already been announced.
Liga MX teams dominated the quarterfinals, with three out of four advancing to this round, while just one Major League Soccer team moved on. The remaining four teams will now face off for a chance to contest the final.
In the event of a tie at the end of regulation, the game will go directly to a penalty shootout to determine advancement; no extra time will be played.
The inaugural edition of the Leagues Cup got underway this past week, with four Liga MX and four MLS teams going head to head in the quarterfinals. Three of the four Mexican representatives moved on to the semifinals, which will be held in Houston and Los Angeles in August.
Chicago Fire 0-2 Cruz Azul
LA Galaxy 2-2 Tijuana (LA advanced 3-1 on penalties)
Houston Dynamo 1-1 América (América advanced 6-5 on penalties)
Real Salt Lake 0-1 Tigres UANL
It took 120 minutes and an extremely dubious penalty, but in the end Mexico eked out a 1-0 victory against Haiti in their 2019 Gold Cup semifinal.
The Haitians had been the surprise of the tournament with an upset victory against Costa Rica in the group stage and an epic come-from-behind 3-2 victory against Canada in the quarterfinals, but their Cinderella story couldn’t stretch to getting them to the final.
Mexico dominated possession form the opening whistle – with 76% of it in the first half – but Haitian goalkeeper Jhony Placide was in fine form to keep El Tri off the board. His best save of the half came against Raúl Jiménez, when he made a diving stop to keep out the header.