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Match recap: Santos Laguna 0, Pachuca 3

Pachuca’s defense proves too tough to crack as Santos bows out of the Liguilla

Santos Laguna v Pachuca - Playoff Torneo Guard1anes 2020 Photo by Jos Alvarez/Jam Media/Getty Images

Pachuca came in as one of the worst offensive teams in Liga MX, scoring just 14 goals during the regular season. The playoffs are a totally different beast however, as Pachuca scored three and handed Santos Laguna their second loss at home this season, downing Los Guerreros 3-0 at TSM.

The game got off to a rough start, when in the first minute Roberto Nurse drove into the box and was tackled by Josecarlos Van Rankin. Nurse stomped on Van Rankin’s foot, and the player was down for a couple of minutes on the pitch in obvious pain. He was able to continue however. Pachuca had a good chance in the sixth minute off of a free kick, but Gustavo Cabral’s header grazed the top of the crossbar as it passed out of bounds.

Santos to their credit didn’t waver from their game plan. They were relentless on the press, pressuring Pachuca into making mistakes resulting in turnovers. They were not however able to turn much of that early possession into scoring chances, as Los Tuzos’ compact defensive shape was difficult to crack.

Felipe Pardo had a good look in the 12th minute when he got his head onto a set play on a corner kick, but fortunately for Santos the ball wound up on the outside of the net. Santos kept conceding set pieces and luckily for them they were able to

In the 22nd minute Santos was able to get a break and a cross in found the foot of Julio Furch. The ball knocked off of the post and into the hands of Oscar Ustari, and Furch was slow to get up, revealing a gash on his knee. Despite that and replays that indicated Gustavo Cabral might have handled the ball in the box, nothing was called and VAR was not consulted. In the 28th Santos broke again, this time it was Carlos Orrantia with a shot that Ustari was forced to make a save on.

Pachuca would break through in the 35th minute when Erick Aguirre sent in a brilliant ball on to Víctor “Pocho” Guzmán. Pocho got a foot on it and caught Carlos Acevedo moving the wrong way to get the first goal of the playoffs.

Heading into stoppage time at the end of the first half, Santos had a break and a cross in found the head of Orrantia. The chance was scuffed, however Oscar Ustari seemed to tweak his groin moving on the shot and was down for a minute. He was able to continue, and the half drew to a close without further incident.

Santos looked better disciplined to start the second half, marching down the field with Julio Furch getting a shot on goal that Ustari stopped easily. Pachuca would however double their lead in the 55th when Santos conceded a free kick just outside of the box. Carlos Acevedo made three fantastic saves in succession but ultimately Oscar Murillo was able to put it in.

Santos tried to mount an attack, but being built to counterattack proved to be problematic against a team that is as compact defensively as Pachuca. Octavio Rivero had a decent look in the 70th minute but Ustari read it well and gave him nothing to shoot at. Fernando Gorriarán had a header off of a corner in the 79th but it went into the side netting.

In the 84th, a great give-and-go between Roberto de la Rosa and Víctor Dávila ended when de la Rosa was played in and hit a tough angle shot past Acevedo to make it 3-0 and seal the victory for Pachuca.

Pachuca really held Santos in check all night, not allowing them to break with any regularity. Once they were up a goal, it was even that much less likely for Santos to get a positive result and in the end it was Pachuca who progressed onto the Liguilla.

Santos Laguna: Carlos Acevedo; David Andrade (Ronaldo Prieto, 66’), Matheus Dória, Hugo Rodríguez, Josecarlos Van Rankin; Alan Cervantes, Fernando Gorriarán, Carlos Orrantia (Brayan Garnica, 79’), Gael Sandoval (Adrián Lozano, 66’); Octavio Rivero , Julio Furch

Pachuca: Oscar Ustari; Erick Aguirre, Oscar Murillo, Gustavo Cabral, Kevin Álvarez; Luis Chávez, Erick Sánchez (Francisco Figueroa, 88’); Felipe Pardo (Emmanuel García, 88’), Víctor Guzmán (Efraín Orona, 56’), Ismael Sosa (Roberto de la Rosa, 74’); Roberto Nurse (Víctor Dávila, 55’)

Scoring: Santos Laguna - None; Pachuca - Víctor Guzmán (35’), Oscar Murillo (54’), Roberto de la Rosa (84’)

Disciplinary: Santos Laguna - Guillermo Almada (Yellow - 29’); Pachuca - Roberto Nurse - (Yellow - 0’), Paulo Pezzolano (Yellow - 29’), Miguel Herrera (Yellow - 73’)