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Match recap: Santos Laguna 1, León 2

A match full of controversy sees León hand Santos their first regular season home loss since September.

Santos Laguna v Leon - Torneo Guard1anes 2021 Liga MX Photo by Manuel Guadarrama/Getty Images

It’s not often Santos loses at home, however for just the sixth time since 2018 they suffered a defeat at TSM, losing 2-1 to León. It was a game that saw heavy involvement from referee Oscar Mejía García, however “heavy involvement” shouldn’t be misconstrued. Mejía García and the VAR team had their work cut out for them and did an admirable job to get the calls right.

Santos started the game pressuring León hard, running down balls and forcing León out of any rhythm they were trying to establish. In the 13th minute, Fernando Gorriarán saw Rodolfo Cota off of his line and hit a shot from the center of the field that just missed the top of the bar. The ball had deflected to Gorri from referee Oscar Mejía García however, and a drop ball was awarded at the spot it was touched.

In the 19th there was some controversy as a shot in the box by León looked to have deflected and hit the arm of Santos defender Félix Torres. Play was allowed to continue, and when it stopped Mejía García went immediately to the VAR booth. After a fairly brief review, a penalty was awarded to León and Torres picked up a yellow card. Ángel Mena took the shot from the spot and even though goalkeeper Carlos Acevedo guessed right, Mena hit a hard shot off of the post and in.

In the 28th, León had a fantastic chance when Luis “Chapito” Montes hit a pass to a wide open Ángel Mena in stride in the box. Mena hit a shot, but Acevedo was there to make the stop. The rebound went to Stiven Barreiro, however his diving header was also stopped by Acevedo in another fantastic play. Santos then drove down the field and Jesús Ocejo chipped a ball into the arm in Santiago Colombatto in the box. Mejía García as he had done at the other end awarded a penalty and showed Colombatto a yellow card. Fernando Gorriarán stepped up and smashed the ball into the back of the net to draw the sides level.

Neither team was able to gain a clear advantage during the rest of the half. León had a couple of opportunities but was wasteful with them, while Santos couldn’t get much started due to León’s persistent fouling. This continued into the second half, when seconds in William Tesillo was booked for a hard foul. In the 50th minutes Santos had a golden opportunity when Jesús Ocejo and Omar Campos raced down field. León defended well but the ball was passed back to a wide open Gorriarán, however Gorri’s shot went well high, much to the frustration of both Gorriarán and head coach Guillermo Almada.

In the 57th Acevedo would come up big again when Víctor Dávila hit a powerful shot from close range, but the goalkeeper made a fantastic diving save. Off of the resulting corner kick however the ball wasn’t ever fully cleared and it eventually made it’s way to Fernando Navarro, who hit a beautiful curling shot into the top corner to give León the lead once more.

León almost added one more in the 60th when Navarro got past most of the defense and hit a shot but Acevedo made fantastic diving stop on it. On the counter, Juan Ferney Otero was played into the box and goalkeeper Rodolfo Cota made a sliding stop. Otero was incensed and thought Cota had fouled him, and Mejia García held up play for more than a minute while the VAR booth checked out the play, however nothing was ultimately rewarded.

In the 66th, Ocejo made a wonderful run into the box, evading multiple defenders and hitting a shot past a clearly confused Cota, however the shot missed the outside of the post by mere inches.

In the 79th a turnover deep by Santos almost proved disastrous when the ball was crossed into the box. It sailed over the head of its intended target but found its way to the foot of Jean Menenses, however his shot was read all the way by Acevedo who smothered it.

Santos threw players forward in an attempt to find an equalizer, but León was able to play it perfectly, sitting back and countering when the opportunity arose. In stoppage a shot looked to have ricocheted off of a León player’s arm and while it was initially awarded by Mejía García, the VAR review overturned it and no penalty was awarded.

Both teams have off next week due to the international break. Santos’ next match is in Guadalajara against León on Sunday, April 4 while León also plays on Sunday, April 4 when they host Toluca.

Santos Laguna: Carlos Acevedo; Ismael Govea (Jesús Isijara, 67’), Félix Torres, Matheus Dória, David Andrade; Juan Ferney Otero, Andrés Ibargüen, Fernando Gorriarán, Edgar Games (Adrián Lozano, 67’); Jesús Ocejo, Omar Campos (Eduardo Aguirre, 67’)

León: Rodolfo Cota; William Tesillo, Stiven Barreiro, Osvaldo Rodríguez, Fernando Navarro; Jean Menenses (Andrés Mosquera, 86’), José Ramírez, Luis Montes, Santiago Colombatto (Fernando González, 75’); Ángel Mena (Yairo Moreno, 75’), Joel Campbell (Víctor Dávila, 54’)

Scoring: Santos Laguna - Fernando Gorriarán (31’ - penalty); León - Ángel Mena (23’ - penalty), Fernando Navarro (58’)

Disciplinary: Santos Laguna - Félix Torres (Yellow - 22); León - Santiago Colombatto (Yellow - 30’), Fernando Navarro (Yellow - 40’), William Tesillo (Yellow - 45’)