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Liguilla match recap: Santos Laguna 3, Puebla F.C. 0

A dominant win sees Santos taking a 3-0 lead to Puebla for the second leg of the 2021 Guard1anes semifinals.

Santos Laguna v Puebla - Playoffs Torneo Guard1anes 2021 Liga MX Photo by Jos Alvarez/Jam Media/Getty Images

Coming into the first leg of the 2021 Guard1anes semifinals, one of the keys for Santos was taking an early lead and forcing Puebla to adapt. The team took it to heart, picking up a goal before the first minute had elapsed and not stopping until the final whistle of the match where they had amassed a 3-0 win.

Santos came out of the box flying, scoring a goal just 40 seconds in. Off of a throw in, Alan Cervantes crossed the ball into the box and Eduardo “Mudo” Aguirre hit a diving header, knocking the ball off of the chest of Israel Reyes to put Santos up before some fans had found their seats.

Santos kept at it, pressuring Puebla and taking the game to them. In the fifth minute, Mudo Aguirre almost had a second but his shot went just wide of the far post. Puebla was finally able to gain some possession around the tenth minute, however Santos pressed hard and severely limited the ball movement by Puebla. Puebla had a free kick just outside of the box in the 17th minute, but the kick went straight into the wall and a solid chance never materialized.

Puebla looked like they got the equalizer in the 24th minute when Maximiliano Araújo took a pass from Amaury Escoto and hit a shot off of the post. The rebound went to Santiago Ormeño, who passed it over to Araújo to knock it into the open net. Initially counted, referee Marco Antonio Ortíz listened to the VAR judge and overturned it as Araújo was played in offside. This proved critical when a minute later, Mudo Aguirre doubled the lead on a breakaway

Aguirre almost had a hat-trick seconds later when he was played in alone on goal but goalkeeper Antony Silva made a tremendous save to keep his team in the match. Puebla had a decent chance in the 35th minute but the shot from George Corral went wide of the mark. Puebla had woke up, and had several chances as the clock sped toward the halfway mark. Carlos Acevedo make a couple of great saves, and a shot was saved by the head of a diving Santos defender to save his team from giving up a goal.

In the second half, Santos started out with the momentum but Puebla had the first opportunity when they got a three-on-one and with a wide open Santiago Ormeño on his left, Omar Fernandez took a shot that went wide of the far post. At the other end in the 50th minute, a rebound fell to Juan Ferney Otero. Otero hit a rocket of a shot that just missed the net.

Santos settled in and started playing smart soccer. There were long stretches of short passes probing for an opening in the Puebla defense. These ran time off of the clock while also keeping the ball in the Puebla end of the field. Tensions got the better of some players in the 69th minute when Amaury Escoto levelled Omar Campos. Teammate Alan Cervantes came in and gave Escoto a piece of his mind, and thankfully though the teams rushed to defend their teammates cooler heads prevailed. A minute later, a Fernando Gorriarán free kick went into the mixer and Ayrton Preciado was able to get to the bouncing ball and smash it home to extend Santos’ lead to three.

Puebla tried to get something going and in the 78th were given a golden opportunity when Santiago Ormeño was able to shake his defenders in the box and get a shot, but he rushed it and it went well over the crossbar. In the 83rd minute Clifford Aboagye sliced through the defense with a head of steam but his shot went wide of the net. As the clock went past the 90 minute mark, Daniel Álvarez had a shot from distance but Acevedo saw it the entire way and easily made the save.

Santos was dominant from whistle to whistle, taking the game to Puebla and not giving them many chances to gain a foothold.

The return leg will be in Puebla on Sunday, May 23 at 7:00 PM local time.

Santos Laguna: Carlos Acevedo; Omar Campos, Matheus Dória, Félix Torres, Carlos Orrantia; Alan Cervantes, Fernando Gorriarán (Roni Prieto, 86’); Ayrton Preciado (Jesús Isijara, 84’), Diego Valdés (Ignacio Jeraldino, 84’), Juan Ferney Otero (Andrés Ibargüen, 77’); Eduardo Aguirre (Santiago Muñoz, 77’)

Puebla F.C.: Antony Silva; Salvador Reyes, Juan Segovia (Lucas Jaques, 46’), Maximiliano Perg (Diego De Buen, 33’), Israel Reyes, George Corral; Maximiliano Araújo (Daniel Álvarez, 73’), Javier Salas; Santiago Ormeño, Omar Fernández (Clifford Aboagye, 79’), Amaury Escoto (Gustavo Ferrareis, 73’)

Scoring: Santos Laguna - Eduardo Aguirre (0’, 26’), Ayrton Preciado (71’); Puebla F.C. - None

Disciplinary: Santos Laguna - Fernando Gorriarán (Yellow - 16’); Puebla F.C. - Juan Segovia (Yellow - 3’), Salvador Reyes (Yellow - 45’), Israel Reyes (Yellow - 70’), Javier Salas (Yellow - 75’) George Corral (Yellow - 80’)