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Liga MX 2021 Guard1anes Final match recap: Cruz Azul 1 (2), Santos Laguna 1 (1)

Cruz Azul ends a 24 year title drought with a 2-1 aggregate win over Santos Laguna.

Cruz Azul v Santos Laguna - Torneo Guard1anes 2021 Liga MX: Final Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images

It wasn’t easy, but after a hard-fought series Cruz Azul finally ascends to the top of Liga MX, downing Santos Laguna 2-1 on aggregate to win the 2021 Guard1anes tournament.

The first few minutes were fairly even in terms of possession. Santos might have had a bit more of it, but neither side was able to do much when the ball was at their feet. As the game progressed, Santos started to gain more and more of the possession, winning some corner kicks. Unfortunately for them the chances were left on the table, often scrambled out by Cruz Azul defenders. Juan Ferney Otero got Santos’ first shot of the game in the 15th minute, a long drive that rolled well wide of the net.

In the 21st minute Cruz Azul had a breakaway, but a poor touch and a worse pass relinquished control back to Santos. In the 25th minute off of a corner kick, Juan Escobar had a header on frame the at Carlos Acevedo made a nice diving stop on. Santos kept applying pressure, keeping the ball largely in the Cruz Azul end. Then in the 37th minute Santos struck when Diego Valdés made a couple of good moves in deep and unleashed a rocket from the top of the box to draw the teams level on aggregate.

Cruz Azul had a look at goal in the 43rd minute when Luis Romo had a chance in the box but Acevedo was there to snuff out the chance. Santos kept pressing but the half ended with the series tied.

At the start of the second half, Santos had a decent chance when Juan Ferney Otero hit a tough angle shot on net, but Jesús Corona was there and easily held onto the ball. In the 47th minute Carlos Acevedo came way off of his line to try and clear a ball but missed, and Santiago Giménez had what looked like a clear shot into an open net. He instead drove to the end line and chipped the ball back, where it was cleared out by a Santos player.

In the 50th minute, Cruz Azul was able to break and Jonathan “Cabecita” Rodríguez knocked the ball in past Carlos Acevedo to regain the lead for the home side.

Santos then went back to work. Eduardo “Mudo” Aguirre had a chance in the 56th minute but Pablo Aguilar was there to make a sliding tackle to block the shot. Santos kept pushing players forward, and Cruz Azul kept trying to hit them on the counter. In the 60th. Giménez had another breakaway but sent his shot well over the crossbar and into the stands. In the 65th Luis Romo had a header on a corner kick but it went well wide of the far post.

Santos was trying to press up the field but their passes were rushed and often easily intercepted by the defense. They were periodically able to gain good possession however, keeping Cruz Azul honest. In the 79th Jesús Ocejo hit a cross that went dangerously close to the goal but curled away as it traveled.

Starting in the 82nd minute, Santos had a series of corner kicks but couldn’t quite get anything working. Cruz Azul negated most of the chances and then Félix Torres had a header that missed the mark.

Despite the five minutes of added time, Santos was unable to find another goal. A large fight broke out deep into stoppage time, with players and staff throwing punches however only two yellow cards were handed out. After a brief restart, the referee blew his whistle to indicate full time, and Cruz Azul shed 24 years of futility and finally put the cruzazuleada to rest.

Cruz Azul: Jesús Corona; Roberto Alvarado (Yoshimar Yotún, 45’), Julio Domínguez, Pablo Aguilar, Juan Escobar; Rafael Baca; Orbelín Pineda (Santiago Giménez, 45’), Guillermo Fernández (Adrián Aldrete, 61’), Luis Romo, Ignacio Rivero (Walter Montoya, 82’); Jonathan Rodríguez (José Martínez, 86’)

Santos Laguna: Carlos Acevedo; Omar Campos, Matheus Dória, Félix Torres, Carlos Orrantia; Alan Cervantes, Fernando Gorriarán (Roni Prieto, 55’); Ayrton Preciado (Andrés Ibargüen, 68’), Diego Valdés, Juan Ferney Otero (Jesús Ocejo, 77’); Eduardo Aguirre (Santiago Muñoz, 68’)

Scoring: Cruz Azul - Jonathan Rodríguez (50’); Santos Laguna - Diego Valdés (36’)

Disciplinary: Cruz Azul - Matheus Dória (Yellow - 99’); Santos Laguna - Santiago Giménez (Yellow - 99’)