C.F. Monterrey defeats LA Galaxy in first leg of Champions League Semifinals

April 4, 2013

Carson, Calif. -- With both the Los Angeles Galaxy and C.F. Monterrey reaching the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League, each team and their fans were ready for the first leg to be played at the Home Depot Center on Wednesday night.

Early in the game, the Galaxy dominated the possession with the majority of the match being played in their offensive half of the pitch. Although LA had a couple crosses into the 18-yard box during these first 15 minutes, they couldn't get a good look from those passes.

However, in the 17th minute, Mike Magee took a shot just outside the box to the far post, but Monterrey goalkeeper Juan de Dios Ibarra was able to punch the shot away.

As the first half evolved with Monterrey and the Galaxy fighting for control in the midfield, the Galaxy struck first in the 28th minute when Jose Villareal got the ball in the box and stopped to pass back to Robbie Keane. With Villareal's man beaten, Keane took a few dribbles in and crossed the ball over the defense to the head of Mike Magee. Magee played the unselfish ball to A.J. DeLaGarza who scored with a shot on the outside of his right foot to give LA a 1-0 lead.

The goal got Monterrey's attention because they soon countered with multiple pushes into their offensive side of the field, at one point getting a point blank shot on goal that was wide.

The second half started with Monterrey nearly evening the game in the 51st minute when Humberto Suazo had a clear shot on goal, but delivered it straight at keeper Carlo Cudicini for the save.

In the 60th minute, Juninho was substituted out for Michael Stephens, following an undetermined injury.

A much more impactful substitution would come later in the 63rd minute however, when Landon Donovan made his first appearance at the Home Depot Center since the MLS Cup. Minutes later, Donovan nearly scored with a volleyed shot from a cross into the box.

LA had another opportunity in the 68th minute when Keane received a pass in front of goal with only the goalkeeper to beat. Ibarra charged out, forcing Keane to toe-poke the shot and miss wide from 5 yards away.

Monterrey was up for the challenge and in the 74th minute Aldo de Nigris jumped to win a header in the 6-yard box, missing just wide at the far post past a leaping Cudicini.

However, Monterrey soon would be rewarded for its efforts in the 83rd minute, as Cesar Delgado crossed the ball into the box, where it eventually settled at the feet of Humberto Suazo. Suazo's shot found the back of the net for a 1-1 tie.

Although the Galaxy had been the better team on the night, the game would get turned upside-down in the final 10 minutes, as Monterrey added another goal. In the 90th minute, the ball was headed to Aldo de Nigris 10 yards away from goal. He volleyed the ball on his knee as Cudicini charged out, and then scored past Cudicini with his left foot.

Monterrey leaves the HDC with a 2-1 lead, with both teams playing the final leg in Monterrey next week for the chance to play in the Champions League Final.

By Brian Kowalski
Staff Reporter for The Daily Sports Herald

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