After ending the first half leading 2-1, Monterrey held on to capture fifth place against a brave Esperance side in the highest-scoring match of the tournament so far
The match, a rare faceoff between African and Mesoamerican football, was an intimate affair played in front of a few thousand spectators, with many more outside the stadium in preparation for the evening's semifinal between Kashiwa Reysol and Santos.
Both teams lacked dynamism in the first 20 minutes, and the offensive players were left very isolated at both ends, resulting in few goal chances.
The deadlock was broken in the 31st minute by Cameroonian striker Yannick Ndjeng, who captured a long vertical pass, resisted a tackle, and slammed the ball beyond Jonathan Orzoco to give Esperance the lead.
Hiram Mier tied the score three minutes later for Monterrey with a precise volley after the ball bounced off the bar. Just before the end of the half the Mexicans took the lead thanks to an unmarked header by Aldo De Nigris, directly from a corner kick.
Monterrey extended its lead two minutes into the second half through another header, this time by Jesus Zavala, but the scoring carnival continued with Esperance cutting the deficit in the 74th minute, thanks to a penalty converted by Khaled Mouelhi.
Despite the Africans having a few good occasions to equalize in the final minutes, Monterrey held on to their lead to secure the win. The game ended in a festive atmosphere, with fans of both teams joined by the Japanese spectators in cheering the players.
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