Crew draw with Monterrey 2-2 in first leg of Champions League quarterfinals

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Columbus Crew tied Monterrey 2-2 in the first leg of the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals Wednesday in a rain-soaked game.

Columbus took a late lead in the 86th minute but Monterrey scored the equalizer with one minute left in extra time to take the series lead on aggregate.

Crew head coach Caleb Porter laid into the officiating crew during the postgame press conference and stormed out before taking a question.

“Why don’t they get the officiating sorted out? It’s a joke,” Porter said. “Shame on Concacaf.”

Porter said the officials were put together at the last minute and that the person in charge of VAR had never done the job with that officiating crew before Wednesday’s match.

Monterrey scored first in the ninth minute when the Crew turned the ball over in their own half followed by Aboubacar Keita slipping inside the box to allow Rayados’ Aké Loba to get an open look.

The goal was the first Eloy Room has allowed in the 2021 season after two clean sheets in the Champions League round of 16 and a shutout in Columbus’ MLS opener, which ended in a 0-0 draw.

Three minutes after the goal, Columbus’ Lucas Zelarayán was given a questionable yellow card for barely stepping on an opponent’s foot while trying to change direction. Zelarayan also received a yellow card in the round of 16 against Real Estelí FC, which means the midfielder must miss the Crew’s crucial next game at Monterrey.

Zelarayán stayed focused despite the card and helped give Columbus the equalizer by forcing a turnover in the Monterrey box and subsequently danced around a defender to find an open Milton Valenzuela whose shot deflected off the post before going into the net in the 65th minute.

It looked like Columbus took the lead in the 71st minute on a a header by veteran Bradley Wright-Phillips who subbed into the game just four minutes prior. But the goal was disallowed after VAR showed him offsides by inches.

Zelarayán gave Columbus the lead in the 87th minute when he went diving to the ground to get the shot off and the ball bounced past Monterrey goalkeeper Luis Cardenas’ outstretched arms. Harrison Afful got the cross to Zelarayán after Darlington Nagbe made a nice touch to get open and pass it outside to Afful.

Monterrey kept the pressure up and tied the game in the 93rd minute on a goal by Alfonso Alvarado who headed the ball in after a beautiful cross.

The Crew had plenty of chances in the first half, including a perfect pass from Zelarayán to Luis Diaz that forced Cardenas to come off his line. But Diaz couldn’t gain control and shot harmlessly as he fell away from the goal.

Columbus had a chance in the 31st minute when Pedro Santos placed the ball perfectly inside the box to a streaking Valenzuela who took a nice touch inside before rocketing the ball high and straight, but it was poked away by Cardenas to keep the Crew scoreless.

Gyasi Zardes also had a good look on a great pass by Zelarayán but Zardes’ diving attempt dribbled just past the left post. The Crew forward took a shot from Cardenas who laid out to prevent the goal but missed the ball entirely.

“That was a clear penalty kick,” Porter said. “I have no idea how that wasn’t reviewed.”

Monterrey leads Columbus on aggregate because road goals determine tiebreakers in the Champions League. The Crew have never advanced past the quarterfinals of the Champions League.

Columbus will face Monterrey on Wednesday, May 5 on the road. That second match is scheduled for 8:30 p.m.

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