Down a man for almost two-thirds of the game isn’t how you want to play when needing two goals to advance. Santos Laguna played almost flawless soccer however, and was able to dethrone reigning Liga MX champion Tigres UANL on a 2-0 win.
Both teams spent the better part of the first few minutes feeling each other out, with Santos eventually settling into the flow first. In the eighth minute, Osvaldo “Osvaldito” Martínez hit a powerful shot from distance but Tigres goalkeeper Nahuel Guzmán saw it the entire way and slapped it down safely.
In the 16th minute, Santos was awarded a free kick at the top of the arc. Osvaldito stepped up and hit a masterful free kick that froze Nahuel Guzmán and went in.
¡GOOOOOL! (16’) | Osvaldito Martinez con un tiro libre perfecto y marca el primero de los santos. ¿Se viene la remontada?@ClubSantos 1-0 @TigresOficial (1-2) #SANvsTIG pic.twitter.com/ZNPbsTP9CR— Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports) May 6, 2018
This fired up the home side, as in the 19th minute Jonathan Rodríguez raced down the left side of the pitch and hit a shot that whistled just high of the bar. Two minutes later, Gerardo Alcoba’s header off of a free kick also just went high of Nahuel’s crossbar. Jona Rodríguez had another good attempt in the 24th minute but this one just missed wide.
¡CERCA! (21’) | Otra oportunidad perdida de Santos. Esta vez Alcoba con el cabezazo que sale desviado.@ClubSantos 1-0 @TigresOficial (1-2) #SANvsTIG— Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports) May 6, 2018
Síguelo en vivo aquí ➡ https://t.co/eWE3Wf6Iro pic.twitter.com/rjczrlCKYJ
In the 29th minute, disaster struck for the hosts. Jona Rodríguez went in hard on Javier Aquino and was shown a straight red card. The Santos players were furious, but the referee didn’t budge on his decision.
Roja (28’) | Rodriguez es expulsado con Roja Directa. Santos se queda con uno menos ¿Se equivoca el árbitro?— Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports) May 6, 2018
Sigue el partido en VIVO aquí ➡ https://t.co/eWE3Wf6Iro pic.twitter.com/OvpuR5Doew
While this momentarily shifted the momentum back toward Tigres, Santos was desperate to get the equalizing goal in the series. The hosts threw men forward on the attack, however weren’t able to score before the whistle blew ending the half.
In the second half, Santos still threw everything they had forward in an attempt to score. It was Tigres however that had the first good chance at goal when in the 52nd minute Gignac got on the end of a cross but his header went wide of the net.
(52') | ¡Oh-La-La! Lo que se perdió el francés.@ClubSantos 1-0 @TigresOficial (1-2) #SANvsTIG— Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports) May 7, 2018
Síguelo en vivo aquí ➡ https://t.co/eWE3Wf6Iro pic.twitter.com/NUslTEaCgO
The hosts continued applying pressure however on both sides of the ball, pressing hard whenever Tigres would create a turnover. Tigres remained calm and composed, not panicking regardless of what was thrown at them.
In the 67th minute Santos had a good opportunity when Julio Furch got on the end of a cross in the box but his header was caught by Nahuel. Then in the 74th minute, Santos would finally draw level when Djaniny would get the ball and hit a shot against the momentum of his body. Nahuel got his hands on the ball, but it only slowed the momentum and the ball trickled across the line almost in slow motion.
¡GOOOOOL! (73’) | ¡Claro que si! El Goleador del Torneo, Djaniny marca el GOL que le estaría dando el pase a semis a Santos. Osote de Nahuel.@ClubSantos 2-0 @TigresOficial (2-2) #SANvsTIG pic.twitter.com/LMqW5p2fIl— Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports) May 7, 2018
Djaniny would go down after the goal holding his groin and would take a ride on the medic cart, covering his face with his jersey. He was immediately subbed off for Javier Cortés.
It was now Tigres’ turn to press hard and get the goal. They threw men forward, desperately trying to break through. Santos meanwhile remained compact and did their best down a man to withstand the pressure. The hosts would hang on, advancing to face Club América in the semifinal round.
Santos Laguna: Jonathan Orozco; Jesús Angulo, Gerardo Alcoba, Carlos Izquierdoz, José Abella (Jorge Sánchez, 55’); Brian Lozano, José Juan Vázquez, Osvaldo Martínez; Jonathan Rodríguez, Djaniny Tavares (Javier Cortés, 76’), Julio Furch (Edwin Cetré, 87’)
Tigres UANL: Nahuel Guzmán; Jorge Torres Nilo, Juninho (Timothée Kolodziejczak, 33’), Hugo Ayala, Israel Jiménez; Javier Aquino, Rafael de Souza, Jesús Dueñas; André-Pierre Gignac, Eduardo Vargas (Lucas Zelarayán, 69’), Enner Valencia (Jürgen Damm, 46’)
Scoring: Santos Laguna - Osvaldo Martínez (17’), Djaniny Tavares (73’); Tigres UANL - None
Disciplinary: Santos Laguna - Jonathan Rodríguez (Red - 28’); Tigres UANL - André-Pierre Gignac (Yellow - 26’), Israel Jiménez (Yellow - 54’)