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Xelaju vs. Monterrey: Final score 1-3, Two-time defending champs cruise in Guatemala

Monterrey are just about through to the semifinals after winning 3-1 in Guatemala.

Lintao Zhang

Monterrey are two-time defending CONCACAF Champions League winners and their quest to make it three straight is well on track after a 3-1 win at Xelaju in Wednesday's quarterfinal first leg. They will now return home for next week's second leg with one foot in the semifinal and the possibility of a historic three-peat intact.

It took just nine minutes for Monterrey to go in front of Xelaju. Jose Maria Basanta's header forced Fernando Patterson into a good save, but he left the rebound right in front of goal for Hiram Mier to knock home.

Monterrey deserved to be on top after a sizzling opening 10 minutes, but once behind, Xelaju came alive. They forced Jonathan Orozco into a couple of fine saves, but the goalkeeper was up to it and kept Monterrey in the lead.

That lead was extended just before halftime through Aldo de Nigris. A clever run by Severo Meza unlocked the Xelaju defense, which left de Nigris all alone. Once Meza fed him, it was a simple finish and Monterrey were 2-0 up.

Julio Estacuy did his best to bring Xelaju back into the match with a delightful chip that cut Monterrey's lead in half, but Meza did them in again. This time he set up Jesus Corona for a tap-in finish that earned Monterrey a 3-1 win, three valuable away goals, and near-certain advancement to the semifinals for the third straight year.