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Match recap: Club Tijuana 2, Santos Laguna 1

A wild (and controversial) ending that saw Tijuana pick up their first win of the season over Santos.

Club Tijuana v Santos Laguna - Torneo Apertura 2021 Liga MX
Esteban Pavez and Christian Rivera celebrate their team’s first goal during the 8th round match between Club Tijuana and Santos Laguna as part of the Torneo Grita Mexico A21 Liga MX at Caliente Stadium on September 10, 2021 in Tijuana, Mexico.
Photo by Francisco Vega/Getty Images

Liga MX is many things, however boring is not one of them. Club Tijuana were the beneficiaries of two questionable calls, picking up their first win of the season against previously undefeated Santos in dramatic fashion.

The first few minutes of the match showed little from either side, with Tijuana throttling the pace of play with persistent fouling. In the ninth minute Alessio Da Cruz made a nice run into the box, but he was hounded by two Xolos defenders and was unable to pull the trigger on a shot. In the 12th minute Xolos had a nice combination play to build pressure, but the resulting shot by Fidel Martínez went well over the bar. As the clock struck 20 minutes, Roni Prieto tried his luck with a shot from distance but it went well wide of the net. A minute later Esteban Pavez got onto a corner kick that went through traffic and in past ex-Xolos goalkeeper Gibran Lajud. While a brief VAR review seemed to confirm that it was onside and the goal stood, later replays from a different angle appeared to show it had hit off of an offside player and in fact the goal was credited later to Brayan Angulo.

At the other end a few minutes later, Carlos Orrantia got free and hit a shot that also deflected off of a defender, but the deflection carried it just over the bar. A minute later Juan Ferney Otero came down the left side and hit a rocket of a shot that was pushed aside for a corner. In the 37th, Brian Lozano hit a corner kick that proved difficult for the Xolos defense. The clearing attempt failed, and Roni Prieto was able to get a head onto the ball as it was sent back into the box, but Prieto’s attempt went over the bar. Mauro Manotas had an attempt from close but his try went well over the bar.

The second half started out much the same as the first, with Tijuana fouling and disrupting as much as possible. Tijuana caught a huge break when Juan Ferney Otero picked up a rather soft yellow card in the 50th minute, setting up a free kick that forced Lajud to make a fantastic diving save. In the 61st Jordan Carrillo got his head onto a cross into the box after some sustained pressure, but the header was saved and pushed wide. Santos however was able to keep pressure on Tijuana, getting long stretches of possession in their final thrid but coming up with precious few good opportunities.

It did open them to the counterattack however, and in the 67th Mauro Manotas was able to race downfield one-on-one and get a shot that Lajud was able to parry out to safety. In the 74th Brayan Angulo was able to create some space and thread a pass through traffic toward the far post, however it missed everyone and rolled harmlessly over the end line. In the 83rd minute Lajud was called on to make another save, and though the rebound fell to a Xolos player with a seemingly open net, Roni Prieto was there to chest the ball down and clear it upfield. Santos’ persistence paid off and off of a free kick, Matheus Dória hit a cannon of a shot that went into the top corner of the net level the score in the 86th minute.

It wasn’t over though. in the fourth of five minutes of stoppage, Jordi Cortizo made a run into the box and while there was minimal contact with Hugo Rodríguez, Cortizo went down and a penalty was awarded. VAR was not consulted, and Miguel Sansores converted the penalty for the game-winning goal.

Tijuana will head to San Luis to play Atleti on Thursday while Santos heads to Seattle to face the Seattle Sounders in Leagues Cup play on Tuesday before returning home to host Puebla on Sunday in Liga MX play.

Club Tijuana: Jonathan Orozco; Brayan Angulo, Yonatthan Rak, Eduardo Tercero, Vladimir Loroña; Christian Rivera (Miguel Sansores, 88’), Esteban Pavez, Misael Domínguez (Jordi Cortizo, 69’); Lucas Rodríguez, Mauro Manotas (Marcel Ruiz, 83’), Fidel Martínez (Cristian Ortíz, 69’)

Santos Laguna: Gibran Lajud; Omar Campos, Matheus Dória, Hugo Rodríguez, Carlos Orrantia (Jesús Isijara, 76’); Brian Lozano (Ignacio Jeraldino, 76’), Ismael Govea (Alan Cervantes, 66’), Ronaldo Prieto, Juan Ferney Otero; Alessio Da Cruz, Jesús Ocejo (Jordan Carrillo, 56’)

Scoring: Club Tijuana - Brayan Angulo (21’), Miguel Sansores (90+6’); Santos Laguna - Matheus Dória (86’)

Disciplinary: Club Tijuana - Vladimir Loroña (Yellow - 45+1’), Esteban Pavez (Yellow - 55’), Mauro Manotas (Yellow - 82’); Santos Laguna - Juan Ferney Otero (Yellow - 50’), Ronaldo Prieto (Yellow - 76’), Matheus Dória (Yellow - 90+6’)