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Match recap: Santos Laguna 1, Necaxa 4

An early red card sees Santos suffer their heaviest defeat at home in almost a decade, losing 4-1 to Necaxa.

Milton Gimenez (C) of Necaxa celebrates with teammates after scoring his team’s second goal during the 3rd round match between Santos Laguna and Necaxa as part of the Torneo Grita Mexico C22 Liga MX at Corona Stadium on January 23, 2022 in Torreon, Mexico. Photo by Jos Alvarez/Jam Media/Getty Images

TSM is usually a fortress for Santos, however tonight the fortress was sacked as Necaxa took advantage of an early red card to hand Santos their second straight 4-1 loss. It was the first time Santos conceded four goals during a regular season match since 2016 and tied their worst defeat in the building, a 4-1 loss against América in 2014.

The early minutes of the match were fairly uneventful, with the teams trying to settle into some sort of rhythm. Santos tried long balls over the top toward forwards Ignacio Jeraldino and Eduardo “Mudo” Aguirre, but more often than not they were intercepted. The times they tried playing through the midfield, Necaxa did a good job to apply pressure, although Santos’ strategy of long balls was a fairly good counter to that.

The game was going along fairly calmly until the 18th minute when Jordan Carrillo was shown a straight red card for stepping on Idekel Domínguez’ leg. While it didn’t look intentional, it was a clear card and Santos were a player down with over an hour to go.

Down a player, Santos did well to keep players behind the ball and minimize the spaces available when on defense. They were also smart in possession, not over-committing players forward. Necaxa to their credit kept pressing on defense, perhaps knowing Santos would play a bit conservatively. Offensively, they kept trying to find space and pull Santos defenders out of position but with little success. In the 30th minute Necaxa got their first look at goal when Alonso Escoboza got a header on frame, but Acevedo was well positioned and easily stopped the shot.

At the other end in the 34th, Santos won a corner kick. Fernando Gorriarán hit one into the mixer that had to be cleared off of the goal line by a Necaxa defender. The ball went back out to Gorriarán, who put one back into the box and Félix Torres put his head onto it and knocked it into the back of the net for his first goal of the season.

Necaxa rallied after the goal, keeping the ball down in Santos’ end and trying to apply pressure deep. Santos was however up to the task defensively, with Matheus Dória doing the work to clear the ball out. Santos had another good opportunity as the match headed toward halftime, when another corner kick from Gorriarán was deflected out toward the center back. Dória attempted a chilena, but the shot just missed the net. Unfortunately for Santos, Necaxa came down the field and won a free kick deep, which went out wide. IT was corralled and sent centrally, where a Necaxa player hit a shot through traffic, forcing Acevedo to make a diving stop. The rebound however fell straight to Ángelo Araos, who settled it and knocked it in to draw the sides level just before the halftime whistle.

Santos came out looking threatening in the second half, but it was Necaxa who struck in the 52nd minute when a cross in from Escoboza missed the head of Félix Torres and found the head of Milton Giménez, and he knocked it in past a relatively defenseless Acevedo to make it 2-1 for the visitors.

The goal gave Necaxa a lot of confidence, and they took the game to Santos. Santos were on their heels defending, facing down wave after wave of attacks from Los Rayos. Santos was able to keep them at bay thanks in part to some fantastic defending by Dória. But they couldn’t keep them at bay forever, and in the 75th minute another cross from the left hand side found the trailing runner, this time with Rodrigo Aguirre putting his head onto the ball for Necaxa’s third goal of the evening.

Aguirre got his second of the evening in the 84th when a turnover off of a throw in was used to spring him past the Santos defense and in on goal. Acevedo had little shot to stop the chance and Necaxa left little doubt as to who would leave with all three points on the evening.

Both clubs are off next week due to the international break. Santos returns to action in Guadalajara against Atlas on Sunday, February 6 while Necaxa returns hom to host Pachuca on Saturday, February 5.

Santos Laguna: Carlos Acevedo; David Andrade, Matheus Dória, Félix Torres, Carlos Orrantia; Ayrton Preciado (Beto Ocejo, 63’), Alan Cervantes (Brian Lozano, 71’), Fernando Gorriarán, Jordan Carrillo; Ignacio Jeraldino (Diego Medina, 63’), Eduardo Aguirre (Edgar Games, 90+1’)

Necaxa: Edgar Hernández; Alonso Escoboza (Antonio López, 90+1’), Rubén González, Fabricio Formiliano, Idekel Domínguez; Brian García, Ángelo Araos (Dieter Villalpando, 69’), Fernando Madrigal, Alan Medina; Milton Giménez (Jorge Valdivia, 81’), Rodrigo Aguirre

Scoring: Santos Laguna - Félix Torres (35’); Necaxa - Angelo Araos (45+1’), Milton Giménez (52’), Rodrigo Aguirre (75’, 84’)

Disciplinary: Santos Laguna - Jordan Carrillo (Red - 18’), Ayrton Preciado (Yellow - 45’); Necaxa - None