Former Tottenham Hotspur striker Vincent Janssen scored the winner for Monterrey in its 2-1 victory over Necaxa in the first leg of the Liga MX 2019 Apertura semifinal on Wednesday.
Dutch striker Janssen volleyed in from inside the penalty area in the 73rd minute in Estadio BBVA to take a lead into Saturday's second leg in Aguascalientes.
Home side Rayados had a total of 25 shots (eight on target), spawning multiple opportunities to extend their winning margin and will be disappointed to not have taken a wider advantage into Saturday's second leg.
Mexico international Jesus Gallardo found himself free at the far post from a right wing cross to put Monterrey into the lead in the 10th minute and Rayados continued to press for more goals, with Necaxa going into half-time having had only one shot in the first 45.
It was Necaxa's Mauro Quiroga who had his team's first shot on target and he managed to equalize with it in the 64th, but nine minutes later Janssen restored Monterrey's lead.
Rayados pressed and Rodolfo Pizarro had a couple of good chances, but Monterrey couldn't extend its advantage.
Monterrey possesses one of Liga MX's strongest squad, but crept into the playoffs as the eight seed, having endured a difficult start to the Apertura. A midseason change of coach from Diego Alonso to Antonio Mohamed lifted the team, with Monterrey undefeated in league action in eight games under the new manager.
Necaxa finished the regular season in fifth position, but isn't considered one of Mexico's bigger teams and is looking for its first title since 1998.
If Monterrey does reach the Apertura final, it will be postponed until Dec. 26 and 29 due to the reigning CONCACAF Champions League holder's participation in the Club World Cup in Qatar.
In the other semifinal, Morelia hosts Club America on Thursday in the first leg.