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Match recap: Pachuca 1, Santos Laguna 0

Despite playing down a player for over half of the match, Pachuca gets a critical 1-0 win over Santos

Pachuca v Santos Laguna - Torneo Guard1anes 2021 Liga MX Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images

Coming into the match, both teams needed three points to further their postseason ambitions. After a rain-soaked affair, Pachuca is one step closer to the repechaje, downing Santos Laguna 1-0 despite losing a player to a red card before the half. Santos on the other hand are now in the unenviable position of only having some control over their playoff fate. They can still go straight to the Liguilla if they’re able to break the deadlock with Monterrey and hold off León, who are in sixth place, two points behind the aforementioned clubs.

Santos started out on the front foot, maintaining possession and remaining patient while trying to find an opening for an odd-numbered rush. Pachuca meanwhile was able to remain compact defensively, clogging a lot of passing lanes and not allowing Santos clean looks at goal. Santos got a little fortunate in the 11th minute when a turnover deep allowed Felipe Pardo to get the ball along the end line. Pardo hit a cross however no one was there to knock it into the empty net. Pachuca stated to settle in, and in the 16th minute there were cries for a penalty to be awarded when Francisco Figueroa went down in the box, but the contact was minimal and play continued. Pachuca kept the pressure up and in the 31st minute Roberto de la Rosa hit a shot that forced goalkeeper Carlos Acevedo to make a diving save to tip it wide of the post.

In the 36th minute, referee Diego Montaño went to VAR to review a play where Luis Chávez had kicked a ball and apparently caught Juan Ferney Otero on the leg. Montaño took a second look in the booth and changed the card from yellow to red, sending Chávez out of the rain and straight to the showers.

The rest of the half was fairly uneventful, as both teams seemed to struggle to adjust to the shifting dynamics. The start of the second half saw Santos start to be more assertive in possession, although they weren’t able to turn that possession into chances early on. That changed in the 53rd when Montaño went back to the VAR booth to review a challenge by Alan Cervantes on Kevin Álvarez. Cervantes was ruled to have committed a foul in the box and Montaño ruled it was a penalty in favor of Pachuca. Ismael Sosa stepped up to the spot and converted to give the hosts the lead.

Santos got back to work, and in the 62nd Santiago Muñoz had a good look at goal but his redirection went wide of the net. For all of Santos’ enthusiasm however, they had a lot of difficulty in creating chances and Pachuca was much more threatening despite being down a player. Santos was able to create a good chance in the 81st minute when the passes all finally clicked and Eduardo “Mudo” Aguirre got a step on his defender and ripped a shot on net, but Carlos Moreno was there to make the save. Diego Valdés hit a shot through traffic in the 89th but it was not on frame and Pachuca was able to run valuable time off of the clock.

Pachuca will finish the season at San Luis on Thursday, April 29 while Santos heads home to host Puebla on Sunday, May 2.

Pachuca: Carlos Moreno; Erick Aguirre, Oscar Murillo, Gustavo Cabral, Kevin Álvarez; Luis Chávez, Ismael Sosa (Romario Ibarra, 70’), Erick Sánchez; Francisco Figueroa, Roberto de la Rosa (Jorge Hernández, 43’), Felipe Pardo (Miguel Herrera, 85’)

Santos Laguna: Carlos Acevedo; Ronaldo Prieto (Diego Valdés, 59’), Félix Torres, Matheus Dória, Ismael Govea; Juan Ferney Otero (Carlos Orrantia, 70’), Alan Cervantes (Andrés Ibargüen, 70’), Omar Campos; Eduardo Aguirre, Santiago Muñoz (Ignacio Jeraldino, 73’), Ayrton Preciado (Fernando Gorriarán, 59’)

Scoring: Pachuca - Ismael Sosa (57’ - penalty); Santos Laguna - None

Disciplinary: Pachuca - Luis Chávez (Red- 38’); Santos Laguna - None