Just two months after they met in the Finals, Santos Laguna and Cruz Azul battled to a 1-1 draw at Estadio Corona TSM. Even though Santos was able to battle back to salvage a draw, they will most likely be disappointed not to have all three points on the evening while Cruz Azul will also likely be disappointed not to have held on to the lead.
Santos got out on the front foot, and in the third minute Diego Valdés was hacked down by Pablo Aguilar. At first the call was a free kick, but the referees in the VAR booth confirmed that it had taken place in the box and a penalty was given. Fernando Gorriarán hit a hard shot but Andrés Gudiño guessed right and made the save.
Santos was unable to convert the chance, but retained the majority of the momentum through the first part of the the half. Cruz Azul’s answer was mostly to commit hard fouls in transition and allow their defense to recover, hoping to create a counterattack. In the 24th minute Cruz Azul was able to get a chance on goal when Jaiber Jiménez brought the ball down just outside of the box and put a shot just over the bar, however replays showed that Jiménez brought the ball down with is arm and the goal likely would not have stood. Santos quickly restarted play and brought it down the pitch, but the resulting shot was well high of the net.
In the 31st Cruz Azul had a breakaway and Lucas Passerini and Matheus Dória went into the box, and Dória was able to knock the ball away before Passerini could get off a shot. Passerini protested not getting a call, but it was to no avail. In the 40th minute, Pablo Aguilar had a shot that went in on goal, but it wasn’t hit very well and Carlos Acevedo made the easy save.
In the second half, Santos again started out on the front foot and took the game to Cruz Azul. The ball was at the feet of a Santos player more often than it wasn’t, and play barely left the Cruz Azul end of the pitch. Santos had a great opportunity in the 58th minute when Juan Ferney Otero drove deep and hit a pass back that made it to Fernando Gorriarán, but his shot didn’t threaten goal, eliciting a cry of frustration from the midfielder.
Cruz Azul broke through in the 63rd minute when Bryan Angulo headed on a ball to Santiago Giménez, who was able to beat Dória to it and hit a shot that caught Acevedo leaning the wrong way.
Santos had a decent opportunity off of a corner kick, but Gorriarán’s diving header was cleared out of the box, removing the danger. Cruz Azul’s ability to sit back and soak up pressure was frustrating to Santos, as seemingly every passing lane was clogged and the actual chances on goal were few and far between. Santos would be given a second chance however in the 79th minute when Rodrigo Huescas kicked Omar Campos in the back of the leg inside of the box. Diego Valdés converted the try from the spot to pull the home team even in the 81st minute.
This got both teams playing offensively for the first time all game, however it was late in the game and the desert heat had sapped the energy out of most of the players as the clock approached 90 minutes. Passes became ever more errant and it took players longer to get up from fouls suffered. Try as they might, neither team was able to break the deadlock and each team had earned a point on the evening.
Santos heads east to Monterrey to face Tigres next Saturday evening while Cruz Azul heads to Aguascalientes to face Necaxa on Friday evening.
Santos Laguna: Carlos Acevedo; Omar Campos, Matheus Dória, Félix Torres, Carlos Orrantia (Edgar Games, 74’); Fernando Gorriarán (Ignacio Jeraldino, 69’), Jordan Carrillo (Andrés Ibargüen, 68’); Juan Ferney Otero (Jesús Isijara, 88’), Diego Valdés, Roni Prieto; Alberto Ocejo
Cruz Azul: Andrés Gudiño; Jaiber Jiménez, Alexis Peña (Josué Reyes, 73’), Julio César Domínguez, Pablo Aguilar, Juan Escobar (José Juan Martínez, 55’); Walter Montoya (Alexis Gutiérrez, 74’), Rafael Baca, Ignacio Rivero; Bryan Angulo (Rodrigo Huescas, 73’), Lucas Passerini (Santiago Giménez, 45’)
Scoring: Santos Laguna - Diego Valdés (81’ - penalty); Cruz Azul - Santiago Giménez (63’)
Disciplinary: Santos Laguna - Roni Prieto (Yellow - 55’), Ignacio Jeraldino (Yellow - 83’); Cruz Azul - Juan Escobar (Yellow - 6’), Lucas Passerini (Yellow - 22’), Bryan Angulo (Yellow - 34’), Andrés Gudiño (Yellow - 60’), Ignacio Rivero (Yellow - 83’)