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Match recap: Necaxa 3, Santos Laguna 0

A dream start to the season for Santos, getting a dominant performance and seeing the return of Brian Lozano.

Necaxa v Santos Laguna - Torneo Grita Mexico A21 Liga MX Photo by Cesar Gomez/Jam Media/Getty Images

They couldn’t have drawn up a better start to the season. They got goals from veterans (Juan Ferney Otero and Diego Valdés), a goal from a young player from the academy (Alberto Ocejo), a clean sheet for Carlos Acevedo, and perhaps more importantly saw the return of Brian Lozano in a 3-0 win over Necaxa.

The game started out with Santos taking the game to Necaxa a bit, getting the better of the ball. Necaxa was largely able to handle the pressure, however were perhaps a bit overly-reliant on physicality. Matheus Dória went down after a hard challenge in the first minute, although was able to return to the match, and midfielder Vicente Poggi picked up a yellow card for Los Rayos in the fifth minute. Santos was undeterred, keeping possession down in the Necaxa end of the field for several minutes, earning a couple of corner kicks that ultimately resulted in a shot by Fernando Gorriarán that just missed the mark in the ninth minute.

Santos kept pressing the field, getting ever closer to a scoring chance until the 20th minute when a nice cross in found the foot of Alberto Ocejo, who hit a falling shot that Edgar Hernández was able to parry out for a corner kick. Then at the other end Necaxa had a shout for a penalty when a pass found Rodrigo Aguirre in the box who went down. Play was allowed to continue and Santos went down the field, eventually finding Juan Ferney in the box who took a touch, did a stutter-step to lose his mark, and then hit a left-footed shot to beat Edgar Hernández. Referee Jorge Pérez did not consult VAR on the alleged foul on Aguirre, and the goal stood.

Necaxa looked to have evened the match in the 31st minute on a corner kick when Aguirre was able to rise above the defense and head the ball in past Carlos Acevedo. A foul was called on Aguirre however and the goal was waved off, much to the disappointment of the fans in attendance. In the 34th minute Santos was awarded a free kick about 25 yards out, but Dória’s kick hit the wall and the resulting shot went well wide of the net. Then Necaxa had a corner kick in the 37th but it hit the crossbar, which was perhaps a bit fortunate as it might have beaten Avecedo had it been a couple of inches lower. Santos doubled their lead in the 42nd when Jordan Carrillo hit a beautiful pass from the left side just past the defense where Ocejo was able to tip in past Hernández.

Just before the half there was a bit of a scary moment when Dória suffered another hard foul and went down hard on the pitch. After being attended to by the medical staff, he was able to walk off the field under his own power. Mere seconds after play was finally restarted, Pérez blew the whistle to end the half.

Santos picked up where they left off to start the second half, keeping the ball in the Necaxa end for long periods of time and creating set piece opportunities. In the 51st Necaxa had another great opportunity when they played Aguirre in on goal, but Acevedo slapped the ball out of bounds before the play was whistled offside. Santos got their third of the night in the 56th minute when Diego Valdés was played in on goal, went past Hernández, and hit a tight-angle shot into the back of the net.

Then in the 57th minute, Brian Lozano returned to the pitch for Santos Laguna after 496 days. The Necaxa fans gave Lozano an ovation out of respect for the struggle he went through to get back onto the pitch. Lozano had a decent game, although he was understandably rusty. Maybe even more importantly, not long after he subbed on he suffered a hard foul but got right back up, perhaps gaining some confidence along the way.

Santos got a stellar defensive play from Carlos Orrantia in the 60th minute when he executed a perfect sliding tackle in the box to block a shot, the rebound caroming out of danger. Santos almost got a fourth in the 67th when Fernando Gorriarán hit a shot from distance that smashed off of the post.

Necaxa had another good opportunity in the 77th when Maximiliano Salas got a header on frame but Acevedo made a fantastic diving save to tip it over. Acevedo made another great diving save in the 84th minute to tip another shot by Salas wide before making the reaction save on the rebound from close range. Necaxa piled on the pressure late, but were ultimately not able to break through, giving Acevedo a shutout to capture all three points on the evening.

Next week Necaxa is away at Club América on Saturday evening while Santos returns to TSM to to host Cruz Azul in a re-match from the 2021 Guard1anes Finals.

Necaxa: Edgar Hernández; Idekel Domínguez, Agustín Oliveros, Luis Quintana (Brian García, 27’), Julio González; Vicente Poggi (Fernando González 45’), Alan Medína, Alejandro Zendejas; Mauro Quiroga (Alonso Escoboza, 45’), Ángel Sepúlveda (Maximilano Salas, 62’), Rodrigo Aguirre

Santos Laguna: Carlos Acevedo; Carlos Orrantia, Félix Torres, Matheus Dória, Omar Campos; Juan Ferney Otero, Fernando Gorriarán (Edgar Games, 80’), Roni Prieto, Jordan Carrillo (Andrés Ibargüen, 71’); Diego Valdés (José Ávila, 80’), Alberto Ocejo (Ignacio Jeraldino, 71’)

Scoring: Necaxa - None; Santos Laguna - Juan Ferney Otero (21’), Albero Ocejo (42’), Diego Valdés (56’)

Disciplinary: Necaxa - Vicente Poggi (Yellow - 5’); Santos Laguna - Alberto Ocejo (Yellow - 38’), Félix Torres (Yellow - 75’)