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2021 Liga MX Apertura Liguilla Quarterfinal match recap: Santos Laguna 2, Tigres UANL 1

A good first half from Santos gives way to a moment of magic from André-Pierre Gignac to set the stage for the second leg.

Eduardo Aguirre of Santos celebrates after scoring the second goal of his team during the quarterfinals first leg match between Santos Laguna and Tigres UANL as part of the Torneo Grita Mexico A21 Liga MX at Corona Stadium on November 25, 2021 in Torreon, Mexico. Photo by Manuel Guadarrama/Getty Images

Santos knew they had to take advantage of the first leg at their fortress TSM, and they did just that, getting a 2-1 win against Tigres to set the stage for the Vuelta (return leg) match on Sunday. Tigres however will feel comfortable going back to El Volcán down just a goal on aggregate and with the tiebreaker of finishing higher on the table during the regular season being in their favor.

Santos came out swinging, and it wasn’t long before they landed one when in the third minute of play Omar Campos hit a cross into the box that Diego Valdés got his head onto from seemingly out of nowhere, knocking it past Nahuel Guzmán to the delight of the crowd.

Santos almost got a second in the sixth minute when Juan Ferney Otero hit a cross from the left corner, but Nahuel Guzmán read it well and was able to get to the ball before Valdés put his head onto a second goal. Tigres however was able to hit a counterattack a minute later and the resulting shot from Nicolás “El Diente” López went wide of the far post. Santos was undeterred however, and some great build-up play in the 11th found Eduardo “Mudo” Aguirre in on goal. His shot was true, and Santos was up 2-0 before the first quarter hour had past.

The game’s demeanor changed as both teams started fouling each other hard and often. Referee Oscar Macías kept his cards in his pockets however until the stoppage time of the first half, leaving the players to play through it how they saw fit. Tigres had a decent opportunity in the 27th when they got a counterattack going and André-Pierre Gignac hit a shot, however goalkeeper Carlos Acevedo was well positioned and read the shot the entire way, making the save look easy.

In the 33rd minute, “Chaka” Rodríguez dropped Omar Campos along the sidelines. Santos manager Guillermo Almada absolutely exploded, the two teams had a bit of a scrum with Gignac and Fernando Gorriarán exchanging some words and shoves. The sides eventually separated, while Campos had his wrist taped by the medical staff. Shortly after that, Juan Pablo Vigon had a header off of a set piece that grazed the outside of the post.

Tigres started the second half looking much more deliberate in possession, and it paid off with a good stretch of chances early that was mitigated by some good defensive work by Santos. Luis Rodríguez had a good chance in the 66th with a shot from the top of the box but it deflected out wide. In the 72nd, a pass from deep was headed over to André-Pierre Gignac, and in a moment of brilliance he hit it on the volley past Acevedo to draw one back for Tigres.

Santos wasn’t deterred however. In the 80th minute Brian Lozano got to a bouncing ball in the box and hit a left footed shot, however it skipped just wide of the net. GIgnac tried to replicate his goal in the 84th, but he didn’t hit it as cleanly as he did prior and Acevedo was able to easily snag the ball. Santos then had a good counter in the 88th minute but the resulting shot from Campos went into the crowd. Gignac had another header deep in stoppage time but Acevedo read it well and smothered it to end the game.

The return leg will be in Monterrey on Sunday, November 28.

Santos Laguna: Carlos Acevedo: Omar Campos, Félix Torres, Matheus Dória, Carlos Orrantia; Alan Cervantes, Fernando Gorriarán; Juan Ferney Otero, Diego Valdés (Ignacio Jeraldino, 82’), Ayrton Preciado (Hugo Rodríguez, 55’); Eduardo Aguirre (Brian Lozano, 71’)

Tigres UANL: Nahuel Guzmán; Pedro Aquino, Carlos Salcedo, Juan José Sánchez, Hugo Ayala (Carlos González, 63’), Luis Rodríguez; Luis Quiñones, Rafael Carioca, Juan Pablo Vigon (Florian Thauvin, 74’); André-Pierre Gignac, Nicolás López (Leonardo Fernández, 63’)

Scoring: Santos Laguna - Diego Valdés (3’), Eduardo Aguirre (11’); Tigres UANL - André-Pierre Gignac (72’)

Disciplinary: Santos Laguna - Eduardo Aguirre (Yellow - 45+2’), Darwin Quintana (Yellow - 48’), Carlos Orrantia (Yellow - 67’); Tigres UANL - Luis Rodríguez (Yellow - 45+1’), Luis Quiñones (Yellow - 66’), Juan José Sánchez (Yellow - 79’)