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Match recap: Santos Laguna 1, UNAM Pumas 2

Pumas becomes the first team to beat Santos at Territorio Santos Modelo since March 17, 2019.

Santos Laguna v Pumas UNAM - Torneo Guard1anes 2020 Liga MX Photo by Manuel Guadarrama/Getty Images

If there were any questions about the legitimacy of Pumas’ chances, they were laid to rest tonight. Pumas became the first team to beat Santos Laguna in Torreón in 542 days, gutting out a tough 2-1 win and taking the superlíder crown as Week 9 came to a close.

Pumas started out on the front foot, pressing Santos from the first whistle. Santos however had the first good chance of the game though when Octavio Rivero was played in and had a shot that goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera stopped. The rebound fell to the feet of Jair González, and his shot was blocked by a sliding tackle, but the AR raised the flag albeit long after Rivero had been played through. David Andrade had a shot from distance in the sixth minute that goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera saw all the way, making the easy stop.

The game was physical, with plenty of robust challenges and some pushing and shoving after the whistle for good measure. In the 23rd minute Brayan Garnica whipped in a cross that Diego Valdés got his head to, but Talavera was perfectly positioned nad stopped the shot easily. Santos started getting the better of the possession on the evening, pinning Pumas back in their own end for a decent stretch of the match and creating multiple chances. Unfortunately they weren’t able to capitalize. Pumas finally broke through, and Juan Iturbe hit a screamer from about 25 yards out that beat a leaping Carlos Acevedo into the top corner to give the visitors the lead.

Pumas had another chance in the 36th when Iturbe drove into the box and went down while shooting. Iturbe’s cries for a penalty went unheard, and replays showed Matheus Dória’s touch on him was not enough to warrant a shot from the spot. Santos went right back to work, but despite working hard they couldn’t seem to find the opportunity to test Talavera and went to the locker room at the half trailing.

When play resumed, it was only four minutes until Pumas doubled their lead when Andrés Iniestra his a shot seemingly out of nowhere that beat Acevedo to double the visitors’ lead.

Santos then kicked their pressing and offensive pressure into high gear, however this opened them up to counterattacks. Pumas had a couple that looked promising but the Santos defense was always able to recover in time. The risk paid off in the 68th minute when Rivero was rewarded with a great cross in from David Andrade on the left flank that he headed in past Talavera to cut the Pumas lead in half.

This emboldened Santos, who kept the pressure in the Pumas end. Santos almost drew one back in a crazy sequence when Rivero headed a cross into the box that was just inches off of the turf, forcing Talavera to make a fantastic save on the chance. Santos kept pressuring and had possession almost exclusively throughout the remainder of the match. Pumas was happy to concede possession and keep numbers behind the ball, and it worked as Santos was unable to break through for a second goal.

Santos will head back to Monterrey, this time to face Tigres on Saturday. Pumas heads home to host Club Atlético de San Luis on Sunday.

Santos Laguna: Carlos Acevedo; Josecarlos Van Rankin, Hugo Rodríguez, Matheus Dória, David Andrade; Alan Cervantes (Julio Furch, 46’), Fernando Gorriarán; Jair González (Gael Sandoval, 66’), Diego Valdés, Brayan Garnica: Octavio Rivero

UNAM Pumas: Alfredo Talavera; Alejandro Mayorga (Juan Pablo Vigón, 80’), Nicolás Friere, Johan Vázquez, Alan Mozo; Juan Iturbe (Luis Quintana, 47’) , Erik Lira, Andrés Iniestra, Carlos Gutiérrez (Facundo Waller, 62’); Juan Ignacio Dinenno (Bryan Mendoza, 80’), Carlos González

Scoring: Santos Laguna - Octavio Rivero (67’); UNAM Pumas - Juan Iturbe (28’), Andrés Iniestra (49’)

Disciplinary: Santos Laguna - Alan Cervantes (Yellow - 9’), Diego Valdés (Yellow - 87’); UNAM Pumas - Johan Vázquez (Yellow - 19’), Erik Lira (Yellow - 19’), Alan Mozo (Yellow - 53’)