Santos Laguna lost one home match in all of 2019, and down 1-0 at the half it looked like they’d equal that loss total in their first match of 2020. But a strong performance in the second half saw them come back to grab a 3-2 win in front of a raucous crowd at TSM Corona.
The opening minutes were rather slow, with both teams not really finding their rhythm and the fouls outnumbering the scoring chances. Then in the ninth minute, Santos seemed to fall asleep at the wheel a bit and Josecarlos Van Rankin allowed Jean Menenses to get the ball in space. Menenses hit a strong shot at a tight angle that Jonathan Orozco had no real chance to stop and like that the visitors were up 1-0.
In the 21st minute León looked to have scored again when Menenses was played in and chipped the ball up and over Orozco who was off of his line. The AR had raised her flag and no goal was awarded. Still León had identified a mismatch between Menenses and Van Rankin and looked to exploit it early and often. Santos had an opportunity of their own in the 35th when a great buildup left Fernando Gorriarán alone on net but a fantastic diving save from Cota stood between Gorri and the equalizer. Then a minute later off of a quick restart Brian Lozano had a shot from just outside of the box that hit off of the crossbar.
While Santos looked flat in the first half, they would look extremely sharp in the second. Immediately after the start of the half, Santos drove down the field and Brian Lozano was tripped in the box. “Huevo” stepped up and converted to draw the sides level.
In the 56th Lozano would be taken down in the box again, and after a VAR review a penalty was awarded. This time it was Diego Valdés who would step up and convert to give Santos the lead.
In the 62nd minute León was gifted a chance when Menenses was left open out on the left wing again and he was able to receive the ball in space, but fortunately for Santos his foot hit the turf before it hit the ball and the shot went well wide of goal. Both teams fought hard to try and get the next goal, with play getting a bit chippy at points.
After a scrum in the box in the 84th resulted in a missed header by León, the referee went to VAR and reviewed the previous play. He judged that Dória had committed a foul in the box and awarded a penalty. Ángel Mena calmly stepped up and converted the penalty, and it looked like the win had slipped out of Santos’ hands.
Santos wouldn’t be denied though. Minutes later, Brian Lozano drove down the right wing and hit a beautiful cross into the box for Octavio Rivero, and Rivero’s header did not miss.
Santos was able to hold on through six minutes of stoppage to come away with all three points on the evening. They’ll host Pumas on Wednesday in Copa MX play before heading to Mexico City to face Cruz Azul at Estado Azteca on Saturday. León will return home to host Pachuca, also on Saturday.
Santos Laguna: Jonathan Orozco; Josecarlos Van Rankin, Félix Torres, Matheus Dória, Gerardo Arteaga; Diego Valdés (Eduardo Aguirre, 90’), Fernando Gorriarán; Brian Lozano, Ulíses Rívas, Eryc Castillo (Ayrton Preciado, 81’); Julio Furch (Octavio Rivero, 75’)
León: Rodolfo Cota; Yairo Moreno, William Tesillo, Stiven Barreiro,Gil Burón; Jean Menenses, Luis Montes, Pedro Aquino (Joel Campbell, 67’), Ángel Mena; Ismael Sosa, Leonardo Ramos (José Godínez, 75’)
Scoring: Santos Laguna - Brian Lozano (47’ - penalty), Diego Valdés (58’ - penalty), Octavio Rivero (88’); León - Jean Menenses (9’), Ángel Mena (85’)
Disciplinary: Santos Laguna - None; León - None