CF Montréal lucky to escape with 1-0 loss to Cruz Azul in Mexico

Montreal side outshot 19-1, but only one goal back heading into the second leg of its Champions League quarter-final next week at Olympic Stadium.

Article content

While there’s no denying CF Montréal was badly outplayed, it remains very much alive in its Champions League quarter-final.

advertisement 2

Article content

An overmatched CFM was lucky to escape with a 1-0 loss to Cruz Azul Wednesday night in the opening leg of its two-game aggregate series. The game was played at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.

Uriel Antuna scored the game’s only goal in the 20th minute, while goalkeeper José Corona recorded one of the easiest clean sheets of his career for the Cementeros. CFM generated only one shot — and it wasn’t on target.

The series concludes next Wednesday night at Olympic Stadium, and CF Montréal comes home facing the same scenario it had against Santos Laguna in the Round of 16 — trailing by one.

But the challenge posed by Cruz Azul is more formidable; that much is clear following 90 minutes. And Romell Quioto, the team’s leading scorer in 2021, will be available next week. He was suspended following two cautions against Santos Laguna.

advertisement 3

Article content

That the visitors trailed only by one goal at halftime was nothing short of miraculous. In short, CFM was outworked and outplayed. Its defensive coverage was abysmal. And every time the organized Cruz Azul side entered the area, it posed a threat.

A sign of things to come came in the ninth minute. Sebastian Breza dove to his left and got his left hand on a header from Santiago Gimenez. In the 17th, off a free kick, Angel Romero got the better of defending Joel Waterman, only to see his header go over the bar.

It came as no surprise when the Mexicans opened the scoring. Antuna was open and CF Montréal’s defenders provided him too much space. The sequence began with a long ball from left to right. Waterman and Zorhan Bassong attempted to defend, unsuccessfully, the ball deflecting off Bassong’s back.

advertisement 4

Article content

Breza had no chance, beaten on a low ball to the far side.

Cruz Azul’s plan was becoming clear — play ahead and exploit CFM’s back line, which had no answers. The Mexicans in particular appeared content to pick on Bassong on the right side, taking advantage of an obvious mismatch.

At the same time, realizing it was simply attempting to survive, CF Montréal players dropped deep in an attempt to manage the match and keep the score close. Nonetheless, the onslaught continued.

In the 31st, Antuna sat a cross to Romero, but his header went over the bar. In the 42nd, Antuna was in the area, but his effort was too high. And just before the break, Rafael Baca had a glorious chance from seven yards. But the central midfielder, not an offensive threat, rolled a shot agonizingly wide. It was a poor finish.

advertisement 5

Article content

Cruz Azul outshot CFM 12-0 in the first half. Two of the shots were on target. The home club enjoyed a 62-38 per cent advantage in possession. Playing at an altitude of 7,200 feet, it wasn’t surprising the Canadian club looked tired and confused.

Cruz Azul came out quickly following the break. Carlos Rodriguez had a pair of chances in the opening moments of the second half, but failed to connect.

In the 55th Antuna, a force on the right flank throughout the match, sent a cross to Romero, but his header went wide of the post.

As the contest progressed it appeared Cruz Azul was growing frustrated over its failure to add a second score. The team had its way in the area, but lacked finish. Overall, CFM was outshot 19-1.

[email protected]

advertisement 1


Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user follows comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your e-mail settings.

Leave a Comment