Monterrey (Mexico) 1, Saprissa (Costa Rica) 0
Goals: 25' - de Nigris (MON)
We're not in the Prelimnary round anymore, so the goal difference is less important. Monterrey got three points despite their 1-0 victory and a couple of close-calls for a Saprissa equalizer. Still, this could have been much more, as few would have thought Aldo de Nigris's 25th minute opener (set-up by midfielder Osvaldo Martínez) would have been the last tally of the match. Through the Rayados had other chances, most notably through through Duilio Davino early in the match, the hosts left the match to be taken by Saprissa.
And the Costa Ricans nearly got their point. Midfielder Armando Alonso looked to have done so near the 74th minute when he headed a ball from 16 yards out past Jonathan Orozco only to have the played (correctly) called offside. Late, Monterrey failed to close-down Wálter Centeno from 20 yards out, with Orozco having to resort to acrobatics to prevent the 35-year-old midfielder from bending his shot inside the far post.
Though they leave Mexico with no points, Saprissa seemingly have reason to believe this tournament will be better than last year's, when they won only one of six matches while finishing third in their group. Their performance at Monterrey, controlling much of the match's second half, showed them capable of getting out of Group C. However, last season Los Morados lost their match in Mexico 2-0 (to Cruz Azul). Is this year's performance much better than last's? Perhaps.
As much as a supporter may want to focus on the second half, the most telling stretch of play may have been Monterrey's first half dominance. This result could have been worse.