Monterrey benefited from Humberto Suazo's performance on Thursday, days after his tirade on the sidelines took attention away from their semifinal victory in Toluca.So much for falling out of favor.
Days after storming off the field at Estadio Nemesio Diez on Sunday, Monterrey's Humberto "Chupete" Suazo walked away the hero from the first leg of the Apertura 2009 final.
Suazo scored two goals, including a dramatic match-winner with two minutes to spare, as Monterrey beat Cruz Azul 4-3 to take a lead into Estadio Azul for Sunday's decisive match.
The Chilean said manager Victor Manuel Vucetich's halftime modifications made all the difference.
"The manager spoke well with us at halftime," Suazo said. "He said we needed to have more touches, stay together... The team played differently and we generated a lot of opportunities to win the game."
Cruz Azul held a 3-1 lead at the break but Suazo helped settle things down in the second half with a quick goal, scoring two minutes after the intermission. Sergio Santana scored in the 70th level to pull Monterrey even and set up Suazo's late heroics.
In the 88th minute, Aldo De Nigris fought for a ball inside the penalty area. As Jose de Jesus Corona approached the ball, De Nigris poked it out from underneath the goalkeeper's legs. Suazo was there to clean up the mess, and knocked the ball into an open net.
The game was in stark contrast to his performance in Toluca on Sunday, when he missed on a pair of first-half opportunities, and while Monterrey ultimately got the goal they needed to beat Toluca, courtesty of Abraham Carreño, Suazo was removed from the game and showed his frustrations because of it.
After his stellar individual performance on Thursday, though, Suazo gave credit to his team for the match.
"After having played a first half that was not what we'd planned for, we're happy," Suazo said. "We showed a different side of ourselves in the second half and we were the desreved winners."
For more coverage of the Mexican league playoffs, visit Goal.com's Mexico page.