Liga MX final hangs in the balance after draw in rain-soaked first leg

A first leg played in a downpour didn’t leave either side with any real advantage as they head to the all-important second leg

The relentless rain and frigid temperatures made the first leg of the Liga MX final difficult on both teams, with each able to find an early goal but not much else in a 1-1 draw.

The game had showed plenty of promise before the waterlogged pitch slowed play, and the contest still didn’t disappoint for those who tuned in hoping to see an evenly matched final between two talented teams.

Monterrey got on the board first, taking the lead as it has in every match so far this Liguilla. It took nine minutes for Rayados to silence their neighbors with Nicolas Sanchez nodding Dorlan Pabon’s corner past Nahuel Guzman, who protested for reasons unclear after the soft touch applied by his fellow Argentine.

Tigres quickly answered back thanks to a penalty by Enner Valencia. Monterrey forward Rogelio Funes Mori fouled his counterpart in the area and the Ecuador international not only was confident enough to step up and take it after drawing the foul, but did so with a panenka that floated past goalkeeper Hugo Gonzalez.

The match slowed as the field continued to collect ice and the ball stopped rolling as much as it skated over the blades of grass. Still, a pair of splendid saves either side of the 70th minute, first by Nahuel Guzman using his chest to deny Pabon and later Gonzalez tipping a Jesus Duenas free kick over his bar. The goalkeeper was beaten in the 76th minute but Andre-Pierre Gignac’s long-range effort rocketed off the post and Rayados were able to clear.

With the slick pitch and tempers flaring as soon as the first 15 minutes, the question became who would suffer a blow heading into the second leg. It was answered two minutes before the final whistle as Leonel Vangioni arrived late on a tackle to pick up his second yellow card, meaning he’ll miss the second leg. So too will Hugo Ayala, whose silly reckless play in stoppage time results in Tigres being down a center back in the second leg of a second consecutive playoff series.

They’ll definitely be looking on carefully at BBVA Bancomer Stadium when the trophy is decided 5.6 miles from where Thursday’s first leg took place. The forecast calls for better weather, which should lend itself to a better game. It’s one that fans shouldn’t miss either with the game certain to produce another thrilling contest.