Coming into this match, both Santos Laguna and Tigres needed points to get their seasons back on track. Both teams had underperformed a bit and a win against a strong opponent could be just the thing to help set the course for the Liguilla. Santos played strong, confidant soccer and homegrown player Eduardo “Lalo” Aguirre scored the first two goals of his career in Liga MX play as Santos downed Tigres 2-1.
In the first minute of play Jorge Torres Nilo went for a challenge, landed awkwardly, and was promptly substituted out for Rafael Carioca. Images later showed him on the bench, his left leg wrapped and a scowl on his face. In the ninth minute, Tigres was able to break down field and X got a shot on net but Jonathan Orozco came up with a huge save, punching the ball out of danger. In the 12th minute, Hugo Rodríguez and Enner Valencia went up for a ball and Valencia came in with a flying kick that caught Rodríguez in the shoulder, but no card was given and VAR was not consulted.
Both teams looked solid defensively and in the midfield, however the offensive chances that resulted weren’t the best of quality. Santos worked the high press that Guillermo Almada likes to perfection, while Tigres tried to break it with the long ball over the top. In the 20th minute, Valencia again got mixed up with Rodríguez and hit Rodríguez in the nose with his elbow. Again there was no card or VAR review, but there was plenty of blood from Rodríguez’ nose. A couple of minutes later, Valencia would get a ball over the top but Orozco was able to beat him in a footrace to it, forcing Valencia to take a flying leap.
Santos had a few good chances throughout the first half that culminated in the 40th minute when Brian Lozano made a run down the right side. “Huevo” hit a perfect centering pass to the trailer Eduardo “Lalo” Aguirre, and Aguirre hit a shot that Nahuel Guzmán made the save on. Lalo did what every coach tells their forwards to do and followed up on his shot, got the rebound, and knocked it in.
Tigres wouldn’t remain idle. On the following minute, Gignac dropped a great pass forward for Jordan Sierra, who hit a rocket that hit off of the corner of the crossbar and post. Luckily for Santos, the rebound was forgiving and they’d go into the half up a goal.
Shortly after the start of the second half, Ulíses Rivas took a spill going after a ball and landed awkwardly on his arm. While it looked like his night might have been done, the young midfielder was able to come back on after a short spell on thie sideline. In the 58th, Orozco would come up huge again when he made a save on a shot from Gignac.
Santos would add another when Brian Lozano played a great ball up to Josecarlos Van Rankin. Van Rankin would hit an inch-perfect cross for Lalo Aguirre, and his header gave him his second goal in Liga MX play and his team a two goal lead.
Tigres would draw one back when a great buildup play saw Enner Valencia get the ball out wide. Valencia crossed it to Gignac, whose header was one of the few things Jonathan Orozco couldn’t save on the evening.
There was a bizarre play in the 78th minute when Nahuel Guzmán collected the ball in his area and tried to do a quick restart, looking for an open player. In a little bit of gamesmanship, Lalo Aguirre ran in front of Guzmán to screen him and slow down the pace of play. Guzmán reacted by grabbing Aguirre and kneeing him in the back, but again no card was shown and VAR was not reviewed.
Santos played smart soccer as the clock counted down toward ninety, pressuring for a third goal but not taking wild, speculative chances. Tigres wasn’t able to play with any intensity, not showing much urgency on restarts or creating chances.
Santos will head to Monterrey to face Rayados in the return leg of the Copa MX quarterfinal round on Wednesday before heading north to Juárez to take on FC Juárez on Sunday in Liga MX play. Tigres on the other hand will start their Concacaf Champions League run when they head to El Salvador to play Alianza on Wednesday before heading to Mexico City to face Cruz Azul on Saturday in Liga MX play.
Santos Laguna: Jonathan Orozco; Gerardo Arteaga, Matheus Dória, Hugo Rodríguez, Josecarlos Van Rankin; Ulíses Rívas (Alan Cervantes, 87’), Fernando Gorriarán, Carlos Orrantía; Brian Lozano, Julio Furch (Octavio Rivero, 83’), Eduardo Aguirre (Diego Valdés, 81’)
Tigres UANL: Nahuel Guzmán; Jesús Dueñas, Jorge Torres Nilo (Rafael Carioca, 2’), Carlos Salcedo, Luis Rodríguez; Jordan Sierra, Guido Pizarro; Luis Quiñones (Julián Quiñones, 75’), André-Pierre Gignac, Raymundo Fulgencio (Javier Aquino, 59’); Enner Valencia
Scoring: Santos Laguna - Eduardo Aguirre (40’, 66’); Tigres UANL - André-Pierre Gignac (72’)
Disciplinary: Santos Laguna - Julio Furch (Yellow - 83’); Tigres UANL - Jesús Dueñas (Yellow - 30’), Carlos Salcedo (Yellow - 64’), Guido Pizarro (Yellow - 70’)