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Match recap: América 2, Santos Laguna 1

Santos’ first red card of the season comes at the worst time as they lose 2-1 to Club América at Estadio Azteca.

Gibran Lajud #25 of Santos Laguna battles for possession with Roger Martínez #9 of America during the 14th round match between America and Santos Laguna as part of the Torneo Grita Mexico A21 Liga MX at Azteca Stadium on October 19, 2021 in Mexico City, Mexico.
Gibran Lajud #25 of Santos Laguna battles for possession with Roger Martínez #9 of America during the 14th round match between America and Santos Laguna as part of the Torneo Grita Mexico A21 Liga MX at Azteca Stadium on October 19, 2021 in Mexico City, Mexico.
Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images

Santos played well but their first red card of the season changed everything and América was able to come out with the 2-1 win at Estadio Azteca. América had already clinched a playoff berth, and this strengthens their hold on the Superlíder position while Santos will now be on the repechaje bubble heading into the final four games.

Santos started the game out playing in a defensive shell, looking to keep players in front of the ball and clog passing lanes as much as possible. América looked intent on fouling as often as possible, trying to set the tone for a physical match. Santos was able to get some sustained pressure in the eighth minute of play, but nothing really came of it. In the tenth minute, Roger Martínez tried his luck from distance but Gibran Lajud read it the entire way and easily made the save. Santos did well to control the ball, making lots of short passes and showing great patience and discipline to force América to be reactive on defense. América was by and large patient on defense, not conceding any poor fouls and making Santos work for everything.

Salvador Reyes floated a cross into the box in the 20th minute, but Lajud was easily able to pluck it out of the air and hold onto it. In the 22nd, it was Roger Martínez trying a cross on the ground that Lajud read perfectly and smothered before it became dangerous. Miguel Layún put a cross on the ground that whizzed through the box but no one got to it and it rolled harmlessly out of danger. Sebastián Cordova tried his luck with a shot from distance in the 29th but it went well over the bar.

In the 39th, Eduardo “Mudo” Aguirre hit a shot but it missed the mark, going into the side of the net. Then in the 44th, a poor defensive play turned the ball over deep to América. Alvaro Fidalgo slotted a pass wide for Martínez, but Dória played it well and forced it wide enough for Lajud to come off of his line and make a sliding save on Martínez’ resulting shot. The teams went into the locker room at halftime scoreless, both having played well but with room for improvement.

In the second half, América looked much more animated and really took the game to Santos. Santos to their credit looked prepared and absorbed the pressure, never really letting América threaten much early on despite having much more of the possession. América did get a good look in the 55th minute when Bruno Valdez headed a corner kick off of the post, but the ricochet went well wide of the net. América broke through in the 67th when a floated cross into the box found a wide open Álvaro Fidalgo, who headed the ball with force past Lajud short side.

It wouldn’t last though. In the 70th Salvador Reyes inexplicably handled the ball in the area, and a penalty was awarded. Fernando Gorriarán stepped up and converted it to draw the sides level.

Gorriarán almost doubled the tally a minute later when he scissor-kicked a cross that went just wide of the net. Then Diego Valdés committed a foul on Miguel Layún, sparking a shoving match and earning the Santos midfielder a straight red card. Layún was shown a yellow card as well. América took advantage of the advantage, when Sebastián Córdova headed a ball off of the underside of the bar in the 86th minute to put América back on top.

Santos didn’t give up, and Gibran Lajud made a fantastic save on a breakaway in stoppage to keep them in the match. But it wasn’t enough as América held on for the 2-1 win. América hosts former manager Miguel Herrera and Tigres on Saturday, October 23 while Santos returns home to host Toluca on Sunday, October 24.

América: Guillermo Ochoa; Luis Fuentes, Sebastián Caceres, Bruno Valdez (Jordan Silva, 59’), Miguel Layún; Richard Sánchez (Federico Viñas, 82’), Pedro Aquino; Salvador Reyes, Álvaro Fidalgo (Mario Osuna, 88’), Sebastián Córdova (Nicolás Benedetti, 88’); Roger Martínez

Santos Laguna: Gibran Lajud; Ismael Govea (Emilio Orrantia, 68’), Félix Torres, Matheus Dória, Omar Campos; Fernando Gorriarán, Alan Cervantes, Diego Valdés; Alessio Da Cruz (Juan Ferney Otero, 68’), Eduardo Aguirre (Alberto Ocejo, 82’), Jordan Carrillo (Ayrton Preciado, 68’)

Scoring: América - Álvaro Fidalgo (67’), Sebastián Córdova (86’); Santos Laguna - Fernando Gorriarán (71’ - penalty)

Disciplinary: América - Bruno Valdez (Yellow - 31’), Miguel Layún (Yellow - 76’), Roger Martínez (Yellow - 84’), Mario Osuna (Yellow - 90+5’); Santos Laguna - Omar Campos (Yellow - 39’), Matheus Dória (Yellow - 47’), Diego Valdés (Red - 75’), Alberto Ocejo (Yellow - 90+3’)