01/05/2008 10:35 PM ET
Cruz gets first win in InterLiga history
Club also debuts 14-year-old sensation
Nicolas Vigneri (left) and Cruz Azul defeated Monterrey 1-0 on Saturday night. (AP)
It was history in the making on Saturday night as Cruz Azul claimed its first InterLiga victory in three tournaments with a 1-0 Group B triumph over Monterrey at the University of Houston's Robertson Stadium.
The club was also excited about the debut of 14-year-old sensation Martin Galvan.
Edgar Andrade finished Cesar Villaluz's feed in the 19th minute and the Cruz Azul defense made it stand up under steady second-half pressure, however the victory was overshadowed by Galvan's appearance, as an 85th-minute substitute for Nicolas Vigneri.
Galvan, who has impressed, showed strong ball skills, decent ideas and plenty of energy in nearly nine minutes on the field, but he was easily bodied off the ball by Monterrey's bigger, more experienced defenders.
Galvan, making his first-team debut for the Cementeros, offered a reminder of Freddy Adu, who debuted for Major League Soccer's D.C. United as a 14-year-old in 2004. Adu, now 18, is playing for Portuguese powerhouse Benfica.
Cruz Azul, who went winless in InterLiga appearances in 2006 and 2007, remained in contention for one of Mexico's two available berths in Copa Libertadores, South America's club championship.
The Cementeros, who lost their tournament opener to San Luis on Wednesday, take on Pumas UNAM in the Group B finale Tuesday night at Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
Twin finals Jan. 12 in Carson will determine the Copa Libertadores entrants. Guadalajara has already qualified for the South American tournament.
Monterrey, held scoreless in its first two matches, retains the slightest of chances to advance, at least until Saturday's second game in Houston. The Rayados' poor InterLiga form follows a disastrous Apertura campaign, in which they went 3-9-5 and finished 17th of 18 clubs.
Both teams made several changes after losses in Wednesday's tournament openers, with Cruz Azul giving newcomers Vigneri, from Uruguay's Penarol, and Jaime Lozano, from Tigres UANL, their first competitive starts with the club.
The Cementeros were without Miguel Sabah and Gabino Velasco, who were red-carded in the 1-0 defeat to San Luis.
Monterrey started Felipe Baloy on the backline and replaced Jared Borgetti, who failed to impress in a 1-0 loss to Pumas UNAM, with Humberto Suazo. Borgetti came on for Suazo in the final 15 minutes.
Cruz Azul dominated play in the first half, benefiting greatly from Gerardo Torrado's return to the lineup after missing the 1-0 loss to San Luis while serving a suspension dating to last year's InterLiga.
Torrado enabled the Cementeros to control midfield, and their backline, led by Julio Cesar Dominguez and Joel Huiqui, prevented Monterrey from connecting with forwards Robert de Pinho and Humberto Suazo.
Andrade, Villaluz and Vigneri displayed improved chemistry in attack for Cruz Azul, which repeatedly tested the Monterrey defense and created several solid opportunities.
Andrade's goal arrived in the 19th minute from a sweet sequence, with Cesar Villaluz nodding a ball into space from midfield. Andrade raced in unmolested and fired past Monterrey goalkeeper Christian Martinez from 20 yards.
Cruz Azul had two solid chances before the strike, but Martinez came off his line to stop Vigneri at the top of the box in the 11th minute and Joaquin Beltran's open header from a corner kick sailed over the crossbar in the 17th.
Monterrey finally managed something late in the half, with Jesus Arellano's header forcing a reaction save by Cruz Azul goalkeeper Oscar Perez, and it was much stronger in the second half while struggling to turn possession into chances. The Rayados managed three dangerous headers, but all sailed wide or right at Perez, who snuffed another opportunity by beating de Pinho to a through ball four minutes into the second half.
Monterrey finishes Group B play Tuesday against San Luis in Carson.