Concacaf League

Hernandez on target as Columbus down Monterrey in Champions Cup semi

Hernandez on target as Columbus down Monterrey in Champions Cup semi

Columbus forward Cucho Hernandez dribbles past Monterrey’s Jesus Gallardo in their CONCACAF Champions Cup semi-final (Jason Mowry)

Cucho Hernandez was on target as Columbus Crew defeated Mexico's Monterrey 2-1 in their CONCACAF Champions Cup semi-final first leg clash in Ohio on Wednesday.

Colombian forward Hernandez delivered a sparkling performance capped with a well-taken first-half goal to help Columbus take a slender advantage into next week's return in Mexico.

Jacen Russell-Rowe headed home the winner for Columbus from a corner on 72 minutes after Maximiliano Meza had leveled for Monterrey just after half-time.

The Major League Soccer champions — who produced a stunning upset of Mexican side Tigres in the quarter-finals — once again proved to be more than a match for Liga-MX opposition.

Monterrey started brightly and could have taken the lead through US international forward Brandon Vazquez, whose snap shot from six yards out was well-saved by Crew goalkeeper Patrick Schulte after six minutes.

But after that early scare, Columbus dominated for long periods, with Hernandez at the heart of most of their attacks at Lower Field.

The Colombian almost set up an opener for Diego Rossi on 17 minutes, but the Uruguayan directed his attempted finish just wide of the post.

Moments later Hernandez saw a vicious shot well-saved by Monterrey goalkeeper Esteban Andrada.

Columbus's pressure paid off after 26 minute though, with Hernandez working a one-two with Russell-Rowe on the edge of the area and finishing crisply past Andrada for 1-0.

Hernandez almost doubled the Crew lead on the stroke of half-time, but was once again denied by Andrada as the besieged Monterrey goalkeeper beat away a superb sbot.

Columbus were rocked on 58 minutes though when Monterrey equalised. Jesus Gallardo ghosted past Sean Zawadzki far too easily down the left and crossed for Meza who jabbed in the finish.

But Zawadzki made amends on 72 minutes, delivering the corner which picked out Russell-Rowe at the far post whose header bounced up and into the net past Andrada.

The second leg takes place in Monterrey next Wednesday.

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