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Match recap: León 2, Santos Laguna 1

A hard-fought game as León downs Santos 2-1.

Leon v Santos Laguna - Torneo Guard1anes 2020 Liga MX Photo by Leopoldo Smith/Getty Images

León has made a name for themselves over the past few seasons by finding ways to win, and they found a way to come back against a Santos Laguna team that played exceptionally. Santos’ performance was especially notable due to the absence of center back Matheus Dória, who was not in the game day roster.

Santos started out really pressing León high and hard, not allowing time on or space with the ball. León seemed taken aback a bit at first but eventually eased into the game. Santos was the team who set the pace for the first part of the game and in the 12th minute got the first good chance on goal when Brayan Garnica made a good run down the right hand side of the pitch and hit a nice back pass to an onrushing Fernando Gorriarán, but his shot went straight into the hands of Rodolfo Cota.

In the 20th minute it looked like León had scored when Emmanuel Gigliotti found himself with a deflected shot from deep and buried it past goalkeeper Carlos Acevedo, however Gigliotti was clearly offside and the goal was waved off by the AR. León started to gain some momentum, keeping possession and probing the Santos defenses. Jean Menenses had a great shot in the 24th minute, but Acevedo made a leaping save to tip it up and over the bar.

Santos’ luck would change in the 40th minute when on what looked like a foul on Alan Cervantes, play was allowed to continue and the ball went to the foot of Julio Furch. Furch unleashed a shot from 25 yards that Cota got a fingertip on but couldn’t stop, giving Santos the lead and Furch’s first goal from the run of play since February 7th.

There was controversy as the clock eclipsed 45’ when Hugo Rodríguez slid tackled STiven Barreiro in the box. The two players then got up and started pushing and shoving and a penalty was awarded for a foul on Barreiro. Once the players were separated Barreiro and Rodríguez were shown a yellow card each and referee Oscar Mejia García went to the VAR booth. On the review it was apparent that Rodríguez got all ball and no part of Barreiro and the penalty was waved off, much to the dismay of the León players.

The second half started out largely the same but in the 50th minute León would equalize when they had several shots blocked but never fully cleared and the ball finally made its way to the feet of Luis “Chapito” Montes, who hit a shot that avoided not only a defender’s boot but Acevedo’s gloves.

For large portions of the second half both teams threatened but couldn’t hit the final pass or beat the final defender in order to create a truly dangerous chance. In the 71st León would finally get the open chance when José Ramírez was left completely alone on the left side of the box, got a great cross, and hit it past Acevedo.

León was happy to try and run out the clock, but Santos pressed for an equalizer. In the 84th Diego Valdés teed one up from distance that Cota made a fantastic diving save on. Ángel Mena had a good chance on a restart in the 89th minute but Acevedo read it perfectly and snuffed out the chance. Then at the other end Santos had a great opportunity to tie but a header just missed the far post. The match ended, and as the teams retreated from the field there was a mild altercation in the tunnel.

León heads to Toluca for the last match of their regular season on Sunday, while Santos hosts Mazatlán later the same evening.

León: Rodolfo Cota; Osvaldo Rodríguez, William Tesillo, Stiven Barreiro, Fernando Navarro; Luis Montes, Fidel Ambríz; José Ramírez (Iván Rodríguez, 80’), Jean Menenses, Ángel Mena; Emmanuel Gigliotti (Joel Campbell, 64’)

Santos Laguna: Carlos Acevedo; David Andrade (Ronaldo Prieto, 83’), Hugo Rodríguez, Félix Torres, Josecarlos Van Rankin; Gael Sandoval (Carlos Orrantia, 77’), Fernando Gorriarán, Alan Cervantes, Brayan Garnica (Diego Valdés, 59’); Octavio Rivero , Julio Furch

Scoring: León - Luis Montes (51’), José Ramírez (70’); Santos Laguna - Julio Furch (40’)

Disciplinary: León - William Tesillo (Yellow - 35’) Stiven Barreiro (Yellow - 45’); Santos Laguna - Josecarlos Van Rankin (Yellow - 36’), Gael Sandoval (Yellow - 43’), Hugo Rodríguez (Yellow - 45’), David Andrade (Yellow - 50’), Diego Valdés (Yellow - 88’)