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Liga MX 2020 Apertura match recap: Cruz Azul 2, Santos Laguna 0

Cruz Azul picks up right where they left off, defeating Santos 2-0 after an early red card to Hugo Rodríguez.

Cruz Azul v Santos Laguna - Torneo Guard1anes 2020 Liga MX Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images

In the pouring rain in Mexico City, Cruz Azul started their season off with a win, downing Santos Laguna 2-0 after a controversial red card minutes into the match.

The game started out with a rather slow pace, with both teams feeling each other out. Cruz Azul seemed very deliberate and interested in keeping possession, while Santos was content letting them. The first good chance of the game came in the fifth minute when Santos won a free kick deep, but Matheus Dória’s low blast went just wide of the net.

Play was stopped in the eight minute as referee Fernando Hernandez reviewed a foul by Santos’ Hugo Rodríguez on Jonathan “Cabecita” Rodríguez. Hugo Rodríguez looked to catch Cabecita’s cleat and roll his ankle. After a lengthy VAR review, Hernandez showed Hugo Rodríguez a straight red card.

In the 17th minute, Cabecita would get a good shot off in the box but a sliding clearance from Dória kept the ball from even reaching goalkeeper Carlos Acevedo. Cruz Azul felt more comfortable and looked to stretch the field with long passes bot hvertically and laterally. In the 23rd minute, Elías Hernández had a shot from distance that whistled just wide of the frame. In the 27th, Orbelín Pineda had a shot from a similar spot just outside of the box that again just missed the mark.

In the 38th, Félix Torres caught Yoshimar Yotún on the top of his foot while in the box. After another lengthy delay, Fernando Hernandez pointed to the spot. Rodríguez stepped up to the spot and while Avevedo made the initial save, the rebound off of the post went directly to Rodríguez’ foot and he easily tapped home the rebound. In a sign of respect, his celebration was muted, a single fist-pump in the torrential rain.

Santos would try to create some pressure against La Maquina after the goal, but being down a player did them no favors and Cruz Azul was able to go into the half with a comfortable lead.

In the second half, Santos started out on a good foot and was able to maintain a decent amount of pressure on in the early minutes of the half. Unfortunately for the visitors they weren’t able to do much with the pressure, as chances were scant for both sides. In the 58th minute, Carlos Orrantia floated a cross into the box that was deflected out of reach of a leaping Julio Furch. Two minutes late Adrián Aldrete hit a cross in the other end that Luis Romo headed just wide.

In the 68th Santos seemed to have a decent chance when a miscommunication allowed Julio Furch some space in the box, but he was facing the wrong way and oped to pass it back to Diego Valdés. Valdés took a touch before shooting, which allowed the Cruz Azul defense to adjust and get a deflection out for a corner. A minute later at the other end Orbelín Pineda was able to get the ball in the box, turn and fire, but Acevedo made a fine diving save to push the ball out for a corner. Then in the 71st Cruz Azul hit Santos on a counterattack. Alexis Gutiérrez made a great run with fresh legs, played a give and go, and then fired one that Acevedo couldn’t get to to make it 2-0 for the home side.

This seemed to take a lot of the spark out of Santos, as runs stopped being made and passes went nowhere. But then in the 78th minute Rodríguez would pick up his second yellow card with a hard foul on Dória and the sides were level at 10 players. This rekindled that spark for the visitors, who immediately looked the better side. They were however unable to use the momentum to draw one back, and Cruz Azul ended the evening with three points.

Next week Cruz Azul heads to Estadio Cuauhtémoc to face Puebla in the early game on Friday while Santos will host Chivas in the late game on Sunday.

Cruz Azul: Jesus Corona; Adrián Aldrete, Julio Domínguez, Igor Lichnovsky, Juan Escobar; Rafael Baca (Milton Caraglio, 84’), Luis Romo, Yoshimar Yotún (Josue Domínguez, 66’); Orbelín Pineda (Ignacio Rivero, 79’), Jonathan Rodríguez, Elías Hernández (Alexis Gutiérrez, 67’)

Santos Laguna: Carlos Acevedo; Gerardo Arteaga, Matheus Dória, Hugo Rodríguez, Félix Torres; Carlos Orrantia, Ulíses Rivas, Fernando Gorriarán, Diego Valdés; Eduardo Aguirre (Octavio Rivero, 64’), Julio Furch (Jordan Carrillo, 80’)

Scoring: Cruz Azul - Jonathan Rodríguez (43’), Alexis Gutiérrez (72’); Santos Laguna - None

Disciplinary: Cruz Azul - Jonathan Rodríguez (Yellow - 54’, Second Yellow - 78’); Santos Laguna - Hugo Rodríguez (Red - 13’), Fernando Gorriarán (Yellow - 45+5’), Carlos Orrantia (Yellow - 85’)