Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

FIFA: Santos ends Kashiwa dream; Monterrey wins 5th place

Posted in African Football, Asian Football, South America Football by peterbein on December 14, 2011

FIFA Club World Cup logoKashiwa Reysol’s FIFA Club World Cup dream ended today at the hands of South American champions Santos FC. Neymar was amongst the goals for the Brazilians as they claimed a 3-1 win against the J-League champions whilst earlier in the day North and Central American champions Monterrey CF won the 5th/6th place play-off, getting the better of African champions Espérance Tunis by the odd goal in five.

Santos, in their first game of the new look Club World Cup, may have won the game against their hosts but Kashiwa continued to do themselves proud in this competition. Following earlier defeats of Auckland City and Monterrey, it was always going to prove tough to jump the final hurdle into the final but Kashiwa certainly weren’t overawed. Nonetheless Santos did what they had to do in a game which could prove to be a useful workout ahead of a potential final against FC Barcelona.

Quality strikes from Neymar and Borges gave Santos a two goal lead at the break but Hiroki Sakai reduced the arrears ten minutes into the second half to provide Kashiwa with a ray of hope. The hosts, however, would suffer a further setback in the 63rd minute when Danilo restored Santos’ two goal lead which they would preserve for the remainder of the game. Santos will now face FC Barcelona or, in the event of a massive shock, Asian champions Al Sadd in Sunday’s final and hope to claim a first world title since their second Intercontinental Cup win in 1963.

The day’s other game saw Monterrey CF restore some pride in the 5th/6th play-off against Espérance Tunis in a game which saw plenty of goals. Espérance, who controversially lost their quarter-final against Al Sadd, went ahead after half an hour to a Yannick N’Djeng goal only to see Monterrey turn the match on its head just before half-time with Hiram Mier and Aldo de Nigris getting on the score sheet.

Monterrey carried on where they left off in the second half with Jesus Zavala’s close range header increasing their lead to two goals but the Tunisians weren’t finished and made it a tight finish when Khaled Mouelhi scored from the penalty spot to make it 3-2 with a quarter of an hour left on the clock. However the Mexicans held out to ensure that they would chalk up a maiden victory in this tournament and they will hope, along with their African counterparts, to win their respective continental titles once more in 2012 and have another shot at world glory in Japan next year.

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FIFA: Kashiwa and Al Sadd through to semis; Barça win El Clásico

FIFA Club World Cup logoKashiwa Reysol and Al Sadd have booked their semi-final places in the FIFA Club World Cup following hard fought victories over Monterrey CF and Esperance Tunis respectively.

Kashiwa, representing the host nation Japan as the 2011 J-League champions, needed a penalty shoot-out to get past North and Central American champions Monterrey after the two teams had played out a 1-1 draw. Leandro Domingues gave Kashiwa the lead in the 53rd minute only to see Humberto Suazo restore parity just five minutes later and the rest of the game proved frustrating for both sides as neither team could kill off their opponents. In the shoot-out Ryohei Hayashi converted the crucial final kick as Kashiwa went through 4-3 and secured themselves a meeting with South American champions Santos FC in the final four.

Controversy reigned in the other semi-final between African champions Esperance Tunis and Asian Champions League holders Al Sadd. Khalfan Ibrahim and Abdullah Koni had given Al Sadd a two goal lead by the 50th minute but Oussama Darragi pulled one back on the hour mark. However the Tunisians had two goals controversially ruled out for offside, decisions which so enraged one supporter who ran on to the pitch. Al Sadd, who are based in Qatar, now look ahead to a semi-final clash with European champions FC Barcelona who will be in fine mood following a 3-1 win against Real Madrid in last night’s El Clásico.

Real Madrid took the lead after just 22 seconds as Karim Benzema took advantage of some uncharacteristic woeful defending by Barcelona only for the visitors to equalize on the half hour mark through Alexis Sanchez. Further goals in the second half from Xavi and Cesc Fabregas helped secure the three points for Barcelona who can go into the FIFA Club World Cup knowing that their arch rivals are not going to be so far ahead when they come back from Japan. Had Real Madrid won last night they would’ve been six points clear with a game in hand. Following last night’s result, however, Barcelona are now on the same points but Madrid, nonetheless, still have the advantage of an extra game to play.

FIFA: Club World Cup Team Guide – Monterrey CF

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on November 30, 2011

Monterrey CF club badgeMexican clubs have dominated the CONCACAF Champions League in recent years and Monterrey CF kept up that trend when winning their maiden title this year. Monterrey, therefore, will enjoy their first appearance in the FIFA Club World Cup with a quarter-final tie against the winner of the qualifying play-off between Oceania champions Auckland City and the J-League champions (as yet undecided).

Monterrey started off their CONCACAF Champions League campaign with a record of five wins and a draw from their six group phase games against Deportivo Saprissa (Costa Rica), CD Marathón (Honduras) and Seattle Sounders (USA). They then had to beat two fellow Mexican clubs in consecutive knockout rounds, a 1-0 win in each leg helping them through the quarter-finals against Toluca whilst the semi-finals against Cruz Azul was won by the odd goal in five. The 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League final against 2009 Major League Soccer champions Real Salt Lake was a tight affair, the Americans gaining the tag of slight favourites to win the trophy following a credible 2-2 draw away from home in the first leg with goals from Monterrey’s Aldo de Nigris and Humberto Suazo cancelled out by strikes for Nat Borchers and Javier Morales. The Mexicans though had enough in the tank to take the game to their hosts in the second leg with Humberto Suazo proving to be the hero, his goal on the edge of half-time proving crucial as Monterrey held on to win the second leg 1-0 and the tie 3-2 on aggregate.

Since Monterrey clinched the CONCACAF Champions League back in April they have been defending their title in the 2011-12 edition of the competition. So far Monterrey have kept up their impressive form, topping their group once again, and look forward once more to a quarter-final match-up against a Mexican side, in this case Monarcas Morelia, when the tournament resumes in March 2012. Domestically Monterrey have been struggling somewhat in the 2011-12 Apertura (Opening Championship) tournament; having won the previous two Opening titles Monterrey could only finish in 11th place during the regular season and failed to make the play-offs. Monterrey’s last competitive game came on November 5th so they might prove a little bit rusty going into the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan. Should the Mexicans win their quarter-final tie they will face off against a Santos team who will be going straight to the tournament on the back of a tough Brazilian league season which finishes on December 4th.

MONTERREY CF v REAL SALT LAKE – FINAL, 1ST LEG

REAL SALT LAKE v MONTERREY CF – FINAL, 2ND LEG

CONCACAF: Monterrey hope to defend Champions title in 2011-12

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on August 15, 2011

Monterrey CFNorth and Central American champions Monterrey CF will begin their defence of the CONCACAF Champions League this week and it is difficult to look beyond them or any of their compatriots from Mexico claiming the crown yet again. Since the tournament was re-branded from the old CONCACAF Champions Cup three years ago Mexican clubs have claimed the title every year and it is difficult to see who can stop that trend from continuing this time around

Monterrey CF have had a successful couple of years having been Mexican champions in the last two Apertura championships and they complimented domestic success with the big continental prize earlier this year by defeating American side Real Salt Lake 3-2 on aggregate in the 2010-11 final. The defending champions should easily progress from Group D in this year’s competition as they face Guatemalan champions CSD Comunicaciones, American Open Cup champions Seattle Sounders and Costa Rican outsiders CS Herediano. The latter two teams sealed their places in the group stage by defeating San Francisco (Panama) and Alpha United (Guyana) respectively in the qualifying round.

The other Mexican teams in the competition should also encounter few problems in the group phase of the competition. Two of them, Santos Laguna and Monarcas Morelia, had to feature in the qualifying rounds before they were assured of CONCACAF Champions League football this year but aggregate wins over Olimpia (Honduras) and Tempête FC (Haiti) saw them through and with neither of these clubs ever having won this tournament they are both keen to break their duck this year. Monarcas’ two clashes against Los Angeles Galaxy in Group A will be amongst the most anticipated clashes in the group stage especially as the American side are desperate to end the Mexican stranglehold on the competition and seem the most likely non-Mexican team to have a major chance of emerging victorious this season. UNAM Pumas have been continental champions on three occasions but have endured 22 years of hurt since their last win in 1989. They will face MLS side FC Dallas, Canadian champions Toronto FC and Panamanian Tauro FC in Group C and should at least make it to second place in the group.

GROUP A: Alajuelense (Costa Rica), Los Angeles Galaxy (USA), Monarcas Morelia (Mexico), Motagua (Honduras)

GROUP B: Colorado Rapids (USA), Isidro Metapán (El Salvador), Real España (Honduras), Santos Laguna (Mexico)

GROUP C: FC Dallas (USA), Tauro FC (Panama), Toronto FC (Canada), UNAM Pumas (Mexico)

GROUP D: CSD Comunicaciones (Guatemala), Herediano (Costa Rica), Monterrey (Mexico), Seattle Sounders (USA)

Mexico: Can Monterrey win third straight Apertura?

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on July 22, 2011

Monterrey CFThe Mexican football season kicks off this weekend with eighteen teams hoping to claim the Apertura (Opening) Championship. UNAM Pumas are the most recent Mexican champions following their 2010-11 Clausura (Closing) Championship success but Monterrey will hope to repeat their 2010-11 Apertura title triumph.

The new season will see a slightly different format in the first stage of each championship. Instead of the eighteen teams being split into three different groups there will now be just one championship table which will clearly decipher who the best eight teams of the regular season are and will, thus, decide the post-season play-off fixtures which ultimately decide each championship. Monterrey are looking for a third straight Apertura championship having won the 2009 & 2010 editions but will also have to pay attention to their CONCACAF Champions League campaign which they enter this season as title holders following their 3-2 aggregate win over American side Real Salt Lake in last season’s final.

UNAM Pumas have been largely inactive in the transfer window and have added no further players to their squad thus far. The champions, who won a 7th domestic crown last season, will also be participating in the CONCACAF Champions League along with the two best non-champion teams of the 2010-11 campaign Monarcas Morelia and Santos Laguna. Club America, traditionally the biggest club in Mexico, haven’t won a domestic title for six years but after signing last season’s Apertura top scorer Christian Benitez from Santos Laguna hopes are high that they can challenge for a title this time around.

The situation regarding relegation in Mexico is similar to that in Argentina in which each team’s points average over three seasons (six championships) will determine who goes down into the second tier Liga de Ascenso next season. Tijuana, from the north west of the country on the Mexico-US border, will naturally start with zero points in the averages table having been promoted last season at the expense of Necaxa. They will be hoping to have a good season so that they can climb above the likes of Estudiantes Tecos (1.0441 average), Queretaro (1.0882), Jaguares (1.1324) and Atlas (1.1471) who lie immediately above them at the commencement of the new campaign.

Estudiantes Tecos will begin the new season on Friday, 22 July with a home match against Toluca. Four matches take place on Saturday, the biggest of them being Pachuca v Santos Laguna, whilst Sunday will also see four games played with defending champions UNAM Pumas at home to San Luis while last season’s Apertura champions Monterrey face a potentially tricky away tie at Jaguares.

CONCACAF: Monterrey claim maiden Champions title (+video)

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on April 29, 2011

North and Central America hails a new champion team and it is to nobody’s surprise that the team comes from Mexico. Monterrey CF have claimed the CONCACAF Champions League for the first time after a 3-2 aggregate win over Major League Soccer side Real Salt Lake. After the first leg finished 2-2 in Mexico seven days earlier, this Wednesday saw an expectant 20,000 crowd at the Rio Tinto Stadium hoping to see Salt Lake claim a first Champions League title for an American side under the current format. However the visitors had other ideas and a tight contest was decided by a Humberto Suzao goal on the stroke of half-time. The 1-0 win saw the Mexicans home and they follow Atlante CF and Pachuca CF onto the roll of honour as the only clubs to have won this tournament since its rebranding in 2008.

CONCACAF: Monterrey and Salt Lake still level after first leg

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on April 21, 2011

The first leg of the 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League final saw Monterrey CF and Real Salt Lake draw an exciting match by two goals each. The Mexican side are hoping to make it yet another triumph for the country whose clubs have won each of the last six tournaments whilst Major League Soccer outfit Real are hoping to put the league back on the map and become the first team from the United States to win this competition since a pre-Beckham Los Angeles Galaxy achieved the feat back in 2000. Goals by Aldo de Nigris and Humberto Suazo for Monterrey were cancelled out on each occasion by Nat Borchers and Javier Morales. The second leg of the final takes place in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, April 27th.

WATCH FIRST LEG GOALS & HIGHLIGHTS HERE:

CONCACAF: Salt Lake and Monterrey to face-off in final (+video)

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on April 7, 2011

Real Salt Lake and Monterrey CF will feature in the 2011 CONCACAF Champions League final after the semi-finals came to a conclusion this week.

Major League Soccer champions in 2009, Real Salt Lake qualified for their first ever CONCACAF Champions League final by virtue of defeating Costa Rican side Deportivo Saprissa by three goals to two in the two-legged contest. The first leg, played on American soil on March 15th, saw home side Real take the honours with a 2-0 win thanks to Álvaro Saborío and Fabián Espíndola. This Tuesday saw the tie come to a conclusion with Jamison Olave’s 61st minute strike for Salt Lake prove decisive. His goal sandwiched strikes from Saprissa’s Luis Cordero and Alonso Solis to give the Americans a 3-2 aggregate triumph and a place in their maiden final.

WATCH REAL SALT LAKE v DEPORTIVO SAPRISSA 2ND LEG HIGHLIGHTS:

They will face-off against Mexicans Monterrey CF in the final after their 3-2 aggregate win over compatriots Cruz Azul. In the first leg, played a fortnight ago, Neri Cardozo and Sergio Santana got the goals for Monterrey CF as they defeated their opponents 2-1 with Adrián Cortés bagging a reply for Los Cementos. Cruz Azul, hoping to reach their third consecutive Champions League final, had home advantage in the second leg this Wednesday and went ahead after 23 minutes through Cesar Villaluz. But Monterrey, whose only continental title to date is the now-defunct Cup Winners’ Cup triumph from 1993, restored parity just nine minutes before full-time with Humberto Suazo scoring from the penalty spot. The 3-2 aggregate reverse means that Cruz Azul’s curse in this competition continues whilst Monterrey will meet Real Salt Lake in the two-legged final on April 19th and 26th.

WATCH CRUZ AZUL v MONTERREY CF 2ND LEG HIGHLIGHTS HERE:

Mexico: Monterrey and Santos qualify for Apertura final

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on November 29, 2010
Monterrey

Can Monterrey reclaim the Apertura title they won last season?

Monterrey and Santos Laguna have the chance to win the 2010-11 Mexican Apertura title after they defeated UNAM Pumas and Club América respectively. For Monterrey it’s a chance to defend the title that they won in the 2009-10 season whilst for Santos Laguna it’s the perfect opportunity to win a first domestic title since winning the 2007-08 Clausura tournament.

Monterrey were involved in a goalless draw in their semi-final first leg match against the Pumas and the second leg seemed destined to end in the same score line until two very late goals decided the match in Santos’ favour. Humberto Suazo finally broke the deadlock on 88 minutes with Neri Cardozo making the game safe two minutes into stoppage time by scoring the second goal of the game. Monterrey’s 2-0 win ensures that the club have the chance to defend the Apertura title they won last season, in which they defeated Cruz Azul in the final.

Santos Laguna were involved in a thrilling couple of games against Club América with the former going into last night’s second leg with a 2-1 lead. Carlos Quintero increased Santos’ aggregate lead by scoring the first goal of the return fixture after just two minutes. Vicente Sánchez restored parity on the night for Club América after 61 minutes only to see the home side re-take the lead sixty seconds later with Quintero scoring his second of the game. Matías Vuoso made the second leg 2-2 after 67 minutes but Santos regained the advantage for a third time with a quarter of an hour remaining thanks to Christian Benítez. Enrique Esqueda’s goal made the game 3-3 with five minutes to play but Santos were able to see out the rest of the match and take the tie 5-4 on aggregate.

With both Apertura finalists already qualified for the quarter-final stages of the 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League it would be the cherry on top of the cake to take domestic honours going into the second half of the season. The first leg of the Apertura final takes place on Thursday, December 2nd in the city of Torreón whilst Monterrey plays host to the second leg three days later. Both clubs have three league titles to their name – who can make sure of Number Four?

Mexico: Champions Four lead the way in Apertura (+video)

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on September 27, 2010
Cruz Azul v Monterrey

Cruz Azul (light blue shirts) and Monterrey have the best records in the Apertura after nine games

Nine matches into Mexico’s 19 game Torneo Apertura regular season and it is the quartet of teams who are currently gracing the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) who have the best records amongst all of the teams in their domestic top flight. Stoppage Time – International Football Blog reviews the latest developments.

For those unfamiliar with the make-up of Mexico’s domestic league the championship is split into two halves: Torneo Apertura (Opening Championship) and Torneo Clausura (Closing Championship). In each championship eighteen teams are split into three groups of six and every team plays each other once during the regular season. The eight teams with the best records then begin the knockout phase to decide the winner of that particular championship. At the moment the Apertura has effectively reached the halfway stage and the four teams with the best records are currently those same four involved in North and Central America’s elite club competition, reviews of which you can read about on Stoppage Time throughout the season.

Two of the CONCACAF representatives top the standings in Group 1 where Monterrey (the only team with a 100% record in the CCL) and Santos Laguna have been fighting for the leadership over the weekend. Monterrey were top going into Matchday 9 but were held to a goalless draw away at Querétaro which allowed Santos Laguna the opportunity to go to Club América and reclaim the leadership. Alas they were defeated in an exciting game by the odd goal in five as goals from Christian Benítez and Fernando Arce were not enough for Santos as they lost 3-2 with all of the goals coming in the first half. In the group standings Monterrey have 19 points from 9 games but Santos are a point behind with a game in hand.

Group 2 sees Toluca hold a narrow one point lead following their weekend victory 2-1 away at Monarcas Morelia. All of the goals came in the second half with Hugo Droguett’s 54th minute goal for the home side being sandwiched by strikes from Toluca’s Héctor Mancilla (51 mins) and Néstor Calderón (67 mins) which allowed the visitors to come away with the three points. Real San Luis had the chance to go above Toluca prematurely on Saturday night but missed out after they succumbed to a 2-1 defeat away at Jaguares. Both teams went in at the break tied at 1-1 and it was a goal from Jaguares’ Carlos Ochoa midway through the second half which proved decisive. Club América, following their Sunday victory against Santos, now lie second in the group.

The team with the best record at this stage is Cruz Azul. The 2009 CCL finalists have a nine point advantage over Jaguares at the top of Group 3, this despite going down to a 2-1 defeat on Saturday away at Necaxa. Christian Giménez’s 66th minute penalty halved the deficit for Cruz Azul after Darío Gandín (13 minutes) and Nicolás Pavlovich (36 mins) had given the home side a healthy two goal cushion at half time. Unfortunately Cruz Azul were unable to find an equalizer but that shouldn’t deter the team from finding their way into the play-offs as they currently hold a 7-0-2 record after nine games and are well on course in both domestic and international competition, just like their fellow group table-toppers.

WATCH NECAXA v CRUZ AZUL GOALS HERE: