A late goal by Argentine midfielder Neri Cardozo proved to be the difference Wednesday night, as Monterrey successfully defended their CONCACAF Champions League title and have booked a place for the next edition of the Club World Cup at the end of the year. Although Santos Laguna won the match 2-1, they lost the final tie 3-2 on aggregate. Santos tried to save the scoring for the last 45 minutes of the tie once again, as they had previously against the Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC in earlier knockout rounds, but they could not get the winner to give them their first lead of the final, and Cardozo put the Rayados ahead for good.
The scoring opened just before the halftime whistle, as Santos midfielder Daniel Luduena hit a rocket from the edge of the box that finally beat Monterrey goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco, who had an excellent game. With that, Santos had momentum to start the second half, and key striker and Mexican international Oribe Peralta made a trailing run into the box after teammates Darwin Quintero and Rodolfo Salinas were unable to capitalize on an opportunity. Peralta ran onto the ball in the 51st minute and scored another scorcher. With that goal, the aggregate score was tied 2-2, and the game opened up. Although Monterrey finally began to hold possession, and both teams took turns with the ball, the respective defenses were quite good and attacks were neutralized effectively for the next half hour.
But Cardozo, who had a rather quiet match up until that point, made the breakthrough, when he came onto the ball outside the box and made a run towards goal. His shot, from just inside the box, was partially deflected by Galindo's outstretched leg and Sanchez could not stop it.
Overall, Santos controlled most of this game, but they were not the better side over two legs. Although they can only play with the conditions in front of them, they surely benefited from the absence of Monterrey striker Humberto Suazo, who scored a brace in the first leg but was suspended for this one due to yellow card accumulation. Monterrey have proved over the course of the tournament to be a worthy champion, and they will surely look to make a better showing in the next Club World Cup. And Monterrey coach Victor Manuel Vucetich remains undefeated in finals ties in his coaching career - surely an impressive feat. Congratulations to Monterrey as the 2012 CONCACAF Champions League winners.