A stoppage-time equalizer from CF Monterrey balanced out a star-showing from Columbus Crew SC midfield maestro Lucas Zelarayan as both sides played to a 2-2 draw in Leg 1 of their Concacaf Champions League quarterfinal series on Wednesday night.
Columbus was just over one minute away from a 2-1 win, only for Jose Alvarado to nod home a Dorlan Pabon cross in the 93rd minute. In the process, the Liga MX visitors grabbed a second away goal and the aggregate advantage going into next Wednesday’s second leg at Estadio BBVA Bancomer.
Zelarayan thought he bagged a game-winner in the 87th minute, sweeping home a right-footed shot that right back Harrison Afful pulled back toward the penalty spot. The Argentine No. 10 made no mistake, putting his team in the driver’s seat.
Columbus also overcame an early hole in the 65th minute, with left-back Milton Valenzuela punching home at the back post. Zelarayan shimmied free along the endline, then crossed across goal for his compatriot to draw the hosts level at 1-1.
Monterrey grabbed their first all-important road goal in the 9th minute after forcing a midfield turnover, with Ake Loba picking out the far corner for a 1-0 advantage.
Bradley Wright-Phillips appeared to give Columbus a 2-1 lead in the 71st minute, though Josh Williams was ruled offside in the buildup following a closer look from Video Review. Zelarayan swung in a looping free kick toward the back post, and the Crew center back snuck around before nodding back across goal for BWP to tap home – a moot move in the end.
Williams nearly found redemption in the 76th minute, only for his powerful header from a Zelarayan corner kick to rattle the crossbar.
The two sides meet on May 5 in Monterrey for Leg 2, as the Crew look to advance to their first-ever CCL semifinal.
9′ – MNT – Ake Loba
65′ – CLB – Milton Valenzuela
87 – CLB – Lucas Zelarayan
90+3′ – MNT – Jose Alvarado
COURTESY MLS SOCCER & COLUMBUS CREW SC COMMUNICATIONS