Saturday, April 13

Liga MX 2022 Opening match recap: Santos Laguna 4, Cruz Azul 0


Territorio Santos Modelo has always been a fortress for Santos Laguna, and tonight was no exception. Santos dominated almost the entire game, and a three goal flurry to start the second half secured their second straight win and propelled them all the way into fourth place with a game in hand on most teams. The four goal win was the biggest margin of victory since they beat Tijuana with a similar 4-0 score back on March 13.

While Santos started the match looking better in possession, Cruz Azul had the first chance at goal in the fifth minute when Ignacio “Nacho” Rivero teed up a shot from distance, however it didn’t curl enough and went just wide of the net. There was a bit of controversy in the seventh minute when José Joaquín “Shaggy” Rodríguez went in hard on Javier Correa, but it looked worse in real time than it did on the replay and referee Oscar Macías Romo kept his cards in his pocket. The possession eventually evened out, with both teams inhabiting a very Zen space; simultaneously having possession and not having it. The ball was at times at their feet, but usually lacking purpose, with players hustling furiously but not creating very much.

Finally in the 17th minute a good pass forward found Juan Brunetta on the left, who crossed it over to Correa on the right, but Nacho Rivero made a great play to head the ball out for a corner. On the ensuing corner kick, Fernando Gorriarán’s corner kick found its way into the center of the box, where Javier Correa’s head smashed into it, putting it into the back of the net.

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Santos immediately went back on the offensive, pressing Cruz Azul and trying to seize the momentum. With the crowd firmly behind them, they passed the ball looking to extend Cruz Azul out of shape, with delighted “olé” chants raining down from the crowd. In the 26th minute Brunetta had a golden opportunity to double the lead when a ball was deflected up into the air and out toward him, but his volley went well over the net and into the crowd.

Cruz Azul almost equalized in the 31st minute when former Santos forward Uriel Antuna got a great ball over the top to beat the trap and go in on goal. He hit a powerful shot inside the box that smashed off the underside of the bar and bounced out, much to the relief of the crowd and goalkeeper Carlos Acevedo. Replays showed Antuna may have been offside, but it would have been too close for comfort. Three minutes later Acevedo made a fantastic diving stop on a Nacho Rivero header on a corner kick, swatting the ball out and hitting it off the post. The Cruz Azul players were incensed, claiming the ball had fully crossed the line before being cleared but no on-field VAR review was conducted and play continued.

Santos looked to have scored in the 39th when Correa got a ball and hit it past Jurado, but the goal was nullified as it looked like Correa was offside when Brunetta hit the initial shot that was blocked by the defense. It was close, but the ruling was correct. The half drew to a close with Santos holding a deserved lead.

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Santos came out in the second half and started out with the same intensity. They pressured and won a corner kick, and in the 47th minute it was Hugo Rodrígiez putting his head through a corner kick into the back of the net.

Santos wasn’t done however and in the 51st Omar Campos made a nice run down the left and at the last second hit a cutback pass to a wide-open Eduardo “Mudo” Aguirre, who buried the shot in past Jurado to extend the lead to three.

Five minutes later Santos pressured again and Fernando Gorriarán lifted a ball up and over the mass in the center to Carlos Orrantia on the right. Orrantia hit a blistering shot into the top of the net to put the match even further out of reach.

Javier Correa went for another goal in the 63rd, ripping a shot from distance that Jurado did well to hold on to. Gorriarán had a chance in the 64th, making a deft move in the box to make his defend miss, however the resulting shot was blocked and he was knocked out of bounds. Gorriarán hit a free kick in the 70th that Jurado made a nice diving save on, pushing it out of bounds. Omar Campos tried his luck from distance in the 73rd, but his shot from him was troubling no one.

There was come controversy late when there were two hard fouls in the 83rd minute, one in the box by Diego Medina on Uriel Antuna, and then one outside the box by Gonzalo Carneiro on Alan Cervantes. Oscar Macías Romo reviewed the entire sequence in the VAR booth, and awarded a penalty for Medina’s foul on Antuna. Ángel Romero stepped up to take the shot, but pushed it wide in perhaps a perfect metaphor for Cruz Azul’s performance on the evening. Alan Cervantes took a golf cart ride off the pitch in stoppage clutching his ankle, however it wasn’t apparent how serious the injury was. Santos was able to hold on and run the game out to pick up their second straight win.

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Santos heads to Monterrey to play Tigres on Sunday, August 14 while Cruz Azul returns home to host Toluca also on Sunday, August 14.

Santos Lagoon: Carlos Acevedo; Omar Campos, Felix Torres, Hugo Rodriguez, Carlos Orrantia; Jair González (Diego Medina, 67′), Fernando Gorriarán, Juan Brunetta (Leo Suárez, 67′), Alan Cervantes (Aldo López, 90+1′); Javier Correa (Harold Preciado, 67′), Eduardo Aguirre (Cecilio Domínguez, 75′)

Blue Cross: Sebastian Jurado; Joaquin Martinez, Luis Abram, Juan Escobar; Ignacio Rivero, Rafael Baca, Erik Lira (Gonzalo Carneiro, 46′), Carlos Rodríguez, Carlos Rotondi (Christian Tabó, 75′); Ivan Morales (Angel Romero, 46′), Uriel Antuna

Scoring: Santos Laguna – Javier Correa (17′), Hugo Rodríguez (47′), Eduardo Aguirre (51′), Carlos Orrantia (56′); Blue Cross – None

Disciplinary: Santos Laguna – None; Blue Cross – None


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