Comeback kings Monterrey crowned CONCACAF champions

Posted by Andrea Canales

Julio Cesar Aguilar/Getty ImagesThe Rayados are kings of the CONCACAF CL for the 3rd straight time.

As Sepp Herberger famously said: "The game lasts for 90 minutes." Having watched Los Rayados come from behind in their semi-final matchup last month, the Los Angeles Galaxy could have told Santos Laguna that as well. One team that didn't need to be reminded that every minute matters was Monterrey. The monarchs of experience and guile, the never-say-die champions who refused to be daunted whether behind by one goal or two, fought back to win an exhilarating CONCACAF Champions League final in front of their faithful fans. Their improbable 4-2 triumph over Santos on May 1 capped an impressive total of three CONCACAF crowns for the kings of Monterrey.

Santos Laguna, meanwhile, was left shell-shocked after a comfortable victory was swiftly transformed into a stunning loss. The nickname for the Santos players is Guerreros, or Warriors, but while the team from Torreon won many of the individual battles on the field and looked in control for most of the game, Monterrey ultimately won the war.

Maybe there's something in the mountain air of Monterrey, some extra oxygen-rich fuel that keeps the team from accepting the conventional logic that a goal from Felipe Baloy in each half had settled the final in favor of Santos Laguna. With the away-goal rule in place, Monterrey had about a half hour left in which to score three goals. Just the day before, Real Madrid couldn't manage that feat, but Monterrey did it with a goal to spare.

Before the comeback began, though, it was a gritty defensive effort that played an important role. Though Balloy penetrated twice and scored, Monterrey goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco batted away a tough shot by Juan Pablo Rodriguez just after the second goal to keep his side within striking distance.

Aldo de Nigris got the momentum going for Monterrey in the 60th minute. His quick run and one-touch finish into the goal slipped the ball just inside the protective shield of Santos goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez.

Sanchez had been solid all night, but the opening goal seemed to cause him to second guess himself. He was shaky the rest of the evening. Monterrey was merciless in taking advantage.

Neri Cardozo fired through traffic in the 83rd minute, and though the ball could have been saved, Sanchez either saw it too late, or was nervously anticipating and leaning the wrong way too far to quickly change direction.

The stadium roared with approval and throbbed for the rest of the match with lusty cheers of encouragement for their beloved Rayados.

De Nigris answered their calls only five minutes later in signature style. He rose above the fray like a bird of prey swooping in for the kill and knocked a header past Sanchez for the winning goal.

Santos scrambled desperately to react, but mostly seemed unable to comprehend what had happened. Herculez Gomez, who had been subbed into the match after Monterrey's first goal, went down in the penalty area, but the referee paid it no mind.

Veteran Humberto Suazo, who has scored in every one of Monterrey's CCL finals, kept the tradition alive in the 91st minute, playing cleanup on a brutally effective counterattack that left Sanchez and the goal completely exposed.

With that, the game was done, and Monterrey were kings yet again, in triplicate.

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