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Match recap: Santos Laguna 2, América 3

A Bruno Valdez penalty conversion gives América their first win of the season and hands Santos their fourth straight loss.

Santos Laguna v America - Torneo Grita Mexico C22 Liga MX Photo by Jos Alvarez/Jam Media/Getty Images

Coming into this match, both Santos and América needed a win to lift their sagging seasons and relieve some of the pressure on their respective managers. América was able to pull it out, with Bruno Valdez making his return after suffering an injury in his last outing in Torreón and scoring the game winning penalty. Santos drops their fourth straight match for the first time since the 2011 Clausura and their second straight at home since the 2016 Apertura.

The first few minutes of the match saw both teams really pressing and striving to make a mark, however nothing really materialized early on. Santos’ fortunes changed in the ninth minute when a cross into the box from Brian Lozano was deflected by Mauro Lainez and then hit off of Bruno Valdez’ shoulder and into the back of the net.

América answered almost immediately. In the 12th minute América drove down the left side of the pitch and Mauro Lainez hit a cross into the box. Former Santos midfielder Diego Valdéz was completely unmarked and got a header that beat Carlos Acevedo to level the score.

The game turned pretty physical, with both teams giving and getting hard fouls, none of which more so than Alan Cervantes catching Álvaro Fidalgo in the mouth with an elbow, forcing Fidalgo to change his shorts since they had blood on them from his bloody lip. Santos regained their momentum however in the 40th minute when a Brian Lozano free kick found the head of Matheus Dória in the box for his first goal of 2022.

Again however Santos’ lead would not last very long. As the clock passed the 45 minute mark, Mauro Lainez again drove down the left side and hit a cross into the box. Félix Torres tried to clear it, but instead wound up tipping it over Carlos Acevedo. It fell between Salvador “Chava” Reyes and Omar Campos, and Reyes pushed Campos off of the ball and hit it into the empty net.

Neither team took their foot off of the accelerator in the second half. Santos had a good chance in the 49th when Fernando Gorriarán fed a good ball in to Harold Preciado, but Guillermo “Memo” Ochoa was as always in perfect position, making a sliding save to deny Preciado his second goal in as many games with Santos. Then in the 52nd a pass from Lainez found Martín, but his deflection went just on the outside of the net. In the 55th minute a ball was sent into the América box. Fidalgo chested it, it appeared to hit Ulíses Rívas and Ismael Govea both in their arms before it’s cleared out to Chava Reyes, who was taken down in the box. Valdez converted the penalty to give América the first lead of the evening.

Santos didn’t give up. In the 68th they almost drew one back when Fernando Gorriarán drove down the left channel, cut inside, and hit a right footed shot that just missed the far post. In the 80th there was some controversy as Fernando Gorriarán was taken down in the box, however the play was ruled to have been offside and no penalty was awarded. As the final whistle drew closer, América collapsed into a dense defensive posture. Santos had a lot of the possession, but there were no real opportunities to speak of when the shooting and passing lanes were clogged with canary yellow jerseys. América held on to pick up their first win of the season, while Santos will spend this week in last place on the league table.

Santos hosts CF Montréal in the opening round of the 2022 Concacaf Champions League on Tuesday, February 15 before heading to Ciudad Juárez to face Bravos on Friday, February 18. América meanwhile heads to Mazatlén to make up their Week 2 match on Wednesday, February 16 before hosting Pachuca on Sunday, February 20.

Santos Laguna: Carlos Acevedo; Omar Campos, Félix Torres, Hugo Rodríguez (Ulíses Rívas, 32’), Matheus Dória, Ismael Govea; Alan Cervantes (Jordan Carrillo, 76’), Fernando Gorriarán, Brian Lozano; Harold Preciado, Eduardo Aguirre

América: Guillermo Ochoa; Salvador Reyes, Jordan Silva, Jorge Meré, Bruno Valdez (Luis Fuentes, 90’); Santiago Naveda, Richard Sánchez; Mauro Lainez, Diego Valdés (Federico Viñas, 90’), Álvaro Fidalgo (Alejandro Zendejas, 80’); Henry Martín

Scoring: Santos Laguna - Bruno Valdez (autogol - 9’), Matheus Dória (40’); América - Diego Valdés (12’), Salvador Reyes (45’), Bruno Valdez (55’)

Disciplinary: Santos Laguna - Alan Cervantes (Yellow - 20’), Matheus Dória (Yellow - 30’); América - Bruno Valdez (Yellow - 17’), Diego Valdés (Yellow - 31’), Jordan Silva (Yellow - 58’)