Monterrey Beats Tigres 2-0 to Clinch No. 1 Seed in Liga MX Apertura Championship

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistNovember 19, 2017

Monterrey's Jose Basanta (L) vies for the ball with Tigres' Enner Valencia (R) during the 2017 Mexican Apertura tournament football match in Monterrey, Mexico, on November 18, 2017.  / AFP PHOTO / JULIO AGUILAR        (Photo credit should read JULIO AGUILAR/AFP/Getty Images)
JULIO AGUILAR/Getty Images

Monterrey defeated Tigres 2-0 on Saturday at Estadio BBVA Bancomer in Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, to win the Clasico Regiomontano.

With the victory, Monterrey clinched the regular-season Mexican Liga MX title and the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, while Tigres settled for the second seed.

Monterrey benefited from an own goal by Tigres defender Juninho early in the second half before Aviles Hurtado scored off a header just five minutes later to lengthen the advantage and supply the final margin.

Monterrey was in firm control of the match throughout, as it attempted 16 shot to Tigres' 11 and put seven on frame as opposed to three for Tigres.

Despite that, there was no scoring in the first half largely because of the play of Tigres goalkeeper Nahuel Guzman, as pointed out by Cesar Hernandez of ESPN FC:

Although the flow of play was lopsided during the opening 45 minutes and throughout the match as a whole, it was a special tilt for several reasons.

Chief among them was the fact that Monterrey and Tigres entered the match first and second in the table, respectively.

Tigres were just two points behind Monterrey prior to the contest, meaning a Tigres win would have given them the No. 1 seed.

Also, the level of talent between the teams was staggering, per Hernandez's assessment:

Tigres were fortunate to escape the first half with the score tied, but their luck turned in the 46th minute when Juninho's attempt to clear a cross went awry and into the back of his own net.

That error was compounded in the 51st minute when Hurtado scored a brilliant goal to build a 2-0 lead that Monterrey would never relinquish.

The victory capped a dominant season for Monterrey, and Hernandez put the 37-point effort into perspective:

Monterrey and Tigres will be favored to meet again for the Liga MX title, but their first-round opponents aren't yet settled.

Immediately following its match, Monterrey was set to be paired with Atlas in the first round, and Tigres were on a collision course with Toluca.

Toluca could move up with a win Sunday, however, and Necaxa could knock Atlas out of the playoffs by winning Saturday night.

The top two seeds were each eliminated in the first round of the Liga MX playoffs last year, but Monterrey has a ton of momentum on its side after Saturday's convincing win.

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