Wednesday Kickoff: Monterrey through in CCL, Ranieri safe at Inter and more

Wednesday Kickoff: Monterrey through in CCL, Ranieri safe at Inter and more

CONCACAF Champions League

Wednesday Kickoff: Monterrey through in CCL, Ranieri safe at Inter and more

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Monterrey (Reuters Pictures)

Monterrey's quest to defend its CONCACAF Champions League title is very much alive.

Humberto Suazo scored two more goals as Los Rayados coasted to a 4-1 victory (7-2 on aggregate) over Morelia and sealed a place in the CCL semifinals.

Luis Perez and Walter Ayovi added goals for Monterrey, which was in the control before the second leg even started after turning in three away goals in a 3-1 first-leg victory. Suazo, who scored twice in the opening leg, kicked things off from the penalty spot in the 44th minute. Perez also tallied from the spot in the 61st to put the tie way out of reach.

After Suazo scored his fourth goal of the tie in the 71st minute, Angel Sepulveda managed a consolation penalty before Ayovi capped the scoring.

Monterrey will take on the winner of Pumas UNAM-Isidro Metapan in the tournament semifinals, with the Salvadoran side carrying a 2-1 edge into Thursday's second leg in Mexico City. 

Highlights from the match and a few more stories are after the jump to get your day going:

RANIERI SAFE AT INTER

Inter Milan may be marred in its worst slump in years, but after crashing out of the UEFA Champions League, the club's president is not prepared to take any action on manager Claudio Ranieri.

Massimo Moratti put his faith behind Ranieri in the aftermath of Inter's Round of 16 defeat to Marseille, giving the manager the benefit of the doubt. Marseille scored goals in second-half stoppage time of both legs, including the crucial away goal on Tuesday that sealed Inter's fate even though a last-second penalty evened up the aggregate at 2-2.

"I don't feel like taking any action," Moratti said. "I don't see how Ranieri is to blame. If we had lost 4-0 I might have seen things differently."

Ranieri took over for Gian Piero Gasperini in September and momentarily righted the ship before things started to fall apart for the storied club. Inter is in seventh place in Serie A and is in danger of missing out on European competition altogether barring another resurgence.

NAPOLI NOT LOOKING TO SELL CAVANI, LAVEZZI

Napoli has some of the world's most sought-after attacking players, and even though the club does not have the money of a Manchester City, Real Madrid or Paris-St. Germain, it does not plan on parting with its prized pieces barring an over-the-top offer.

Ahead of his club's UEFA Champions League second-leg clash with Chelsea, Napoli club president Auerlio De Laurentiis said that Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi are not for sale despite rampant interest from the world's biggest clubs.

"Right now everyone wants Cavani and Lavezzi, but we are not looking to sell," De Laurentiis said. "But if some crazy guy wants to put down £100 million, then, maybe."

GERRARD HAT TRICK PACES LIVERPOOL

The Merseyside derby wasn't much of a battle in the end, as Steven Gerrard's hat trick paced Liverpool to a 3-0 victory over Everton on Tuesday.

The result could have been worse if not for some early heroics from American goalkeeper Tim Howard, who made six saves in the match.

Gerrard finally broke through in the 34th minute, who scored off a failed clearance attempt. He tallied against six minutes after halftime off a great run and feed by Luis Suarez, and he completed his hat trick in stoppage time after another combination with Suarez to cap off the rout.

Even with the victory, Liverpool, which snapped a four-game winless streak in league play, finds itself with an uphill battle to qualify for the Champions League next season, trailing fourth-place Arsenal by 10 points with 10 matches remaining.

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Do you think Monterrey is a good bet to repeat as CCL champion? Think Ranieri should be fired at Inter? Do you actually believe Napoli isn't looking to cash in on Cavani or Lavezzi? What did you make of Liverpool's performance?

Share your thoughts below.

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