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Anatomy of a Goal: Zelarayan puts one past an old rival

This week we look at Lucas Zelarayan’s one-time finish against Monterrey.

Sam Fahmi

Welcome to the Anatomy of a Goal, where each week we dissect one goal (or near goal) from a previous Columbus Crew match.

For the first match of the quarterfinals of the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League, we take a look at Lucas Zelarayan’s 87th minute goal against CF Monterrey that gave the Crew a 2-1 lead on the team’s way to a 2-2 draw in the home leg.

Here’s a look at the goal from Columbus’s Argentine number 10.

The Black & Gold took the field for the first time in nearly two weeks on Wednesday when Mexican legends Monterrey made the trip to historic Crew Stadium. Rayados jumped out to a lead in the ninth minute but the Crew calmed and took control of the match from about the 15th minute onward. Left back Milton Valenzuela scored in the 65th minute to tie up the match and forward Bradley Wright-Phillips had a goal disallowed after VAR determined that Josh Williams was a millimeter offside. Still, Columbus poured on the pressure.

Zelarayan’s goal begins with his own shot following a sustained period of possession by the Black & Gold. The Crew’s No. 10 opts to fire a shot on goal rather than hit a pass across the box to Pedro Santos (7).

Monterrey gets in front of Zelarayan’s shot and deflects the ball out of the goal box.

The ball bounces outside the box, setting off a race between Darlington Nagbe and Rayados striker Jose Alvarado.

Alvarado is able to get on the end of the ball sending a first touch chested ball out into space.

Nagbe shifts his body just in front of Alvarado and easily beats the striker to win back the ball.

Alvarado tumbles to the ground while Nagbe calmly collects the ball and resets the Columbus attack.

Nagbe composes himself and plays a quick square pass to Artur (8). Right back Harrison Afful (25) senses an opportunity and makes an unmarked run up the right flank.

Artur approaches Celso Ortiz and has four options. He can attempt to beat Ortiz off the dribble, play a long through pass to Zelarayan, hit a long diagonal pass forward to Santos or make a quick square pass to Afful.

Artur spreads out the Monterrey defense by firing a long diagonal to Santos.

Santos picks up the pass and cuts toward the corner of the goal box while Afful makes an overlapping run. The Portuguese winger can either cross into the box toward Zelarayan and Wright-Phillips, attempt to beat Mexican Men’s National Team left back Jesus Gallardo off the dribble or play a leading pass out in front of Afful.

Santos makes the smart pass out in front of Afful.

Afful has space and time to survey his options but will have to make his first touch count. With that first touch, Afful has three options. He can carry the ball closer to the goal, play a cross in front of Wright-Phillips or hit a diagonal pass back to Zelarayan.

Afful spots his No. 10 and hits a perfect, first-touch pass toward Zelarayan.

Zelarayan positions himself between Matías Kranevitter and the ball, preparing to receive Afful’s pass.

The ball takes a bounce right in front of Zelarayan but the Argentine attacker has already decided to take a one-touch shot.

Zelarayan’s plant foot slips as he turns his body to send a shot toward the back post.

Monterrey goalkeeper Luis Cardenas gets a jump on the shot as the ball takes a low trajectory toward the back post.

Cardenas dives as the ball nears.

But he is unable to reach it in time as the ball rolls past him...

. . . into the back of the net!

Findings:

  1. Nagbe makes a difficult play of winning the ball against Alvarado look routine, as he did during the entire match.
  2. No one tries to do too much on this play. Artur plays a long diagonal to a wide-open Santos, who makes the simple pass to Afful. The right back then makes the first-time cross to Zelarayan. All simple but effective plays.
  3. These passes also take advantage of Monterrey’s defensive setup. Rayados likes to press and swarm attackers. By playing quick, one- and two-touch passes, the Crew is able to keep Monterrey on the move and find open passing options.
  4. Afful’s one-touch cross to Zelarayan is excellent. Yet another strong performance from the ageless Ghanian.
  5. Zelarayan makes a difficult shot look simple. He is able to take a pass from the right and redirect it all the way to the bottom left corner, helping Columbus take a lead on his old Liga MX rivals.