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2021 Liga MX Apertura Liguilla Quarterfinal match recap: Tigres UANL 1 (2), Santos Laguna 0 (2)

A late goal from Carlos Salcedo puts Tigres through to the Liguilla semifinals over Santos.

Tigres UANL v Santos Laguna - Playoffs Torneo Grita Mexico A21 Liga MX Photo by Alfredo LopezJam Media/Getty Images

Santos Laguna largely kept Tigres in check, but an unlikely hero came through in the clutch for the hosts as Tigres extended Santos’ winless streak at El Volcán to eleven games. Carlos Salcedo meanwhile was the hero for Tigres, who move on to the Liguilla semifinal for the first time since the 2019 Clausura when they won their last title.

Neither team had much going for them early on, as Santos kept players behind the ball and played rather conservatively. Both teams were fairly physical, with Nicolás “El Diente” López and Diego “El Mago” Valdés spending time on the turf in the first ten minutes after some rough plays. Both were ultimately able to continue, however. The first somewhat decent chance of the game came in the 12th minute when Eduardo “Mudo” Aguirre made a run down the center of the pitch, drifted right, and shot far post but it went well wide of the intended target. A minute later at the other end André-Pierre Gignac got an inch of space and hit a powerful shot, but Matheus Dória put himself in the way and absorbed the impact, deflecting the shot away from danger.

In the 18th minute, Diente López took a shot from distance that missed wide. Then Tigres had a real chance in the 22nd minute when Gignac got the ball in the area. It was cleared off of his foot but fell to Luis Quiñones who was trailing the play. Quiñones got off a shot but Carlos Acevedo read it well and gave Quiñones nothing to shoot at, blocking the shot and saving an almost certain goal. Santos did well to continually snuff out Tigres chances long before they developed, forcing the hosts to try things that were more and more hopeful and less and less purposeful. The teams went into the locker room at the half at the same point they started at.

Tigres started off the second half with a bit of a spark. They moved the ball better and in the 47th had a chance after a good series of passes, but the resulting shot was blocked and went nowhere. Santos kept the clamps down on Tigres and limited what they were able to do. Their next chance didn’t come until the 67th minute when Luis Quiñones had a sliver of daylight, however he sent his shot well high of the mark. Santos had a chance of their own in the 73rd when Tigres conceded a free kick about 25 yards out, but Diego Valdés’ free kick went over the bar. As the game went on, the frustration on the Tigres side became more and more evident as Diente López and Luis “Chaka” Rodríguez picked up yellow cards. But then a moment of magic as Tigres went down the field in the 80th minute and set up shop. The ball made its way to Carlos Salcedo, and with all the time in the world he fired a laser into the back of the net to give Tigres the lead.

Things got heated shortly after the goal as a scrum broke out along the sidelines, and Raymundo Fulgencio, who was on the bench, was shown a red card. Santos tried to get the equalizer, but Tigres did well to keep players behind the ball and give Santos a taste of their own medicine. Beto Ocejo had a decent shot in stoppage time, but it didn’t curl quite enough and went just outside the far post. But Santos just couldn’t break down Tigres and eight minutes into stoppage Luis Santander’s whistle signified Santos’ 2021 run had come to an end.

Tigres UANL: Nahuel Guzmán; Javier Aquino, Carlos Salcedo, Guido Pizarro (Jesús Dueñas, 67’), Diego Reyes, Luis Rodríguez; Luis Quiñones, Rafael Carioca (Carlos González, 60’), Juan Pablo Vigon (Florian Thauvin, 59’); André-Pierre Gignac, Nicolás López (Juan José Sánchez, 85’)

Santos Laguna: Carlos Acevedo; Omar Campos, Matheus Dória, Félix Torres, Carlos Orrantia (Ignacio Jeraldino, 85’); Alan Cervantes, Fernando Gorriarán; Ayrton Preciado (Brian Lozano, 68’), Diego Valdés, Juan Ferney Otero; Eduardo Aguirre (Alberto Ocejo, 68’)

Scoring: Tigres UANL - Carlos Salcedo (80’); Santos Laguna - None

Disciplinary: Tigres UANL - Nicolás López (Yellow - 69’), Luis Rodríguez (Yellow - 78’), Raymundo Fulgencio (Red - 83’), Jesús Dueñas (Yellow - 90+1’); Santos Laguna - Matheus Dória (Yellow - 17’), Ayrton Preciado (Yellow - 56’), Guillermo Almada (Yellow - 60’)