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Match recap: Santos Laguna 1, Cruz Azul 0

A Diego Valdés golazo was the difference as Santos gets their first win of 2021 against Cruz Azul

Santos Laguna v Cruz Azul - Torneo Guard1anes 2021 Liga MX Photo by Jos Alvarez/Jam Media/Getty Images

It might not have been their prettiest win, but Santos took all three points against Cruz Azul thanks to a Diego Valdés golazo. Santos proved tactically flexible, and their patience paid off as they were able to rack up another result at home.

The first minutes of the game were rather disjointed as one would expect, however Cruz Azul was able to get the better of possession. Santos got the first real chance however when Juan Ferney Otero made a nice move along the left side of the box, cut in toward the center, and ripped a shot that José de Jesús “Chuy” Corona was well positioned to stop.

While the scoring chances were few and far between early, the fouls were not and both teams had a player with a yellow car by the seventh minute. In that same minute of play, Rafa Baca got Cruz Azul’s first good chance of the match with a shot from distance that Carlos Acevedo pushed wide and out for a corner kick. On a different corner kick in the 10th, Roberto “Piojo” Alvarado was able to get a shot from distance that went just over the top of the crossbar. Cruz Azul was controlling the possession and tempo, and Santos looked out of sorts.

Santos was able to get some momentum going however, with Otero drifting wide to the left and looking to center the ball or cut inside. In the 16th minute there was a bit of controversy when Otero played a ball in toward Chuy Corona and Corona got tangled up with Jesús Ocejo. The Santos players were adamant that Mario Vargas whistle a penalty, but none came. Replays showed that Ocejo didn’t have much of a case to plead, and play continued.

Ocejo got a nice shot off in the 29th, belting one from the left side but it was right at Corona who made the save look routine. In the 41st it was Cruz Azul who bent Vargas’ ear when Piojo Alvarado made a run into the box and looked to get tangled up with Félix Torres, but replays showed the contact was minimal and Vargas again made the correct decision to keep his whistle in his pocket. Cruz Azul settled into possession, and Santos did well to keep them largely at bay while looking for opportunities to counterattack.

In the start of the second half, Santos did well to keep possession and force Cruz Azul back on their heels a bit. Santos had trouble however turning the possession into chances on goal, however in the 60th they were able to hit Cruz Azul on the counterattack and Diego Valdés hit a rocket from about 25 yards out that Chuy Corona could only wave at as it passed him into the back of the net.

Cruz Azul seemed to wake up a bit after this, controlling possession better and pushing forward. It almost backfired though in the 68th minute when after a corner kick Santos was able to break down field and Valdés once again hit a shot from distance, however this one went well wide of the mark.

Tempers flared in the 76th minute when Pablo Aguilar and Fernando Gorriarán got into a heated discussion and while both teams got in one another’s faces, nothing more came of it and play resumed. Santos did well to kill the clock, taking their time on restarts and playing safe passes and forcing Cruz Azul to chase the game. Ultimately, they were able to close it out and get their first win of the season. Santos will host Tigres next Sunday, while Cruz Azul heads back to Mexico City where they’ll host Puebla on Saturday.

Santos Laguna: Carlos Acevedo; Ronaldo Prieto, Matheus Dória, Félix Torres, Jonathan Díaz; Alan Cervantes, Fernando Gorriarán; Jesús Isijara (Carlos Orrantía, 56’), Diego Valdés (Eduardo Aguirre, 87’), Jesús Ocejo (Ignacio Jeraldino, 80’): Juan Ferney Otero

Cruz Azul: José de Jesús Corona; Juan Escobar, Pablo Aguilar, Julio Domínguez, Ignacio Rivero; Yoshimar Yotún (Santiago Giménez, 57’), Rafael Baca; Roberto Alvarado, Orbelín Pineda, Luis Romo (Alexis Gutiérrez, 87’); Jonathan Rodríguez

Scoring: Santos Laguna - Diego Valdés (60’); Cruz Azul - None

Disciplinary: Santos Laguna - Jesús Ocejo (Yellow - 3’), Félix Torres (Yellow - 71’); Cruz Azul - Pablo Aguilar (Yellow - 6’), Rafael Baca (Yellow - 64’)