A win is a win, and Santos got their first win in 2022 by beating CF Montréal 1-0 in the first leg of the Concacaf Champions League Round of 16. Santos were lucky to pull out the win, needing almost all 90 minutes to get the goal against the Canadian Champions, who won’t play a league game for another week and a half.
Montréal didn’t get off to the best start, ceding possession to Santos and looking very much in preseason form. In the second minute of play, goalkeeper Sebastian Breza passed the ball out to his left to no one in particular, and the ball went out for a corner kick. They turned it around however in the fifth minute when Rommell Quioto got the ball deep, made a couple of moves to lose Félix Torres, and fired past Carlos Acevedo. Referee Oshane Nation however went to VAR and ruled it no goal due to a foul earlier in the play from Lassi Lappalainen on Carlos Acevedo. In the 10th minute Santos was threatening off of a corner kick when Brian Lozano whipped a cross into the box. Breza undercut Matheus Dória as he was in the air attempting to deflect the ball, and Dória landed hard on the turf. He was down momentarily but got up and continued on however.
Santos kept the pressure on, and Montréal did themselves no favors by continually attempting short kicks into the teeth of the Santos press. On one such occasion in the 18th minute, Santos won the ball back immediately and Cervantes hit a shot that went just wide of the net. In the 28th Montréal had shouts for a penalty when a player went down in the box, but nothing was called. Santos then took it down to the other end and Eduardo “Mudo” Aguirre had two shots on goal, but both times Breza made good stops on the chances.
By and large however neither team looked very convincing in the first half. Santos’ best chance came in the 35th when Mudo Aguirre headed a corner kick into the post, but even with that Breza was there to make a stop had it been better targeted. Most of Santos’ shots were from long range and while some of them went through traffic, Breza was able to stop them all.
Santos started the second half with a bit more fire in their bellies. Santos held possession in the Montréal end and got several shots toward the net. Montréal however had the best chance in the 54th when Quioto put a shot on frame but Acevedo was perfectly positioned to make the stop.
Santos had a lot of the possession, but looked lost around the box. There was no discernible attacking plan, and they made Montréal’s job easy by not being in sync and assertive. The were able to get a decent chance off of a set piece in the 77th, with Fernando Gorriarán whipping in a corner kick that Félix Torres headed wide. Finally just when it looked like it was going to end in a 0-0 draw, Santos was able to create and sustain pressure in the Montréal endo of the field. Gorriarán hita shot that was deflected into the air by Joel Waterman, and Beto Ocejo was there to head it in to give Santos the lead in the 88th minute. Santos was able to hang on and get the 1-0 advantage as the series goes to Montréal.
Santos heads to Juárez to face Los Bravos on Friday, February 18th before heading to Montréal for the return leg on Tuesday, February 22. Montréal meanwhile won’t play a league match until they head to Florida to face Orlando City on Sunday, February 27.
Santos Laguna: Carlos Acevedo; Ismael Govea (Carlos Orrantia, 79’), Félix Torres, Matheus Dória, Omar Campos; Edgar Games (Jordan Carrillo, 71’), Alan Cervantes, Fernando Gorriarán, Brian Lozano (Leonardo Suárez, 60’); Eduardo Aguirre (Alberto Ocejo, 78’), Harold Preciado
CF Montréal: Sebastian Breza; Joel Waterman, Gabriele Corbo, Kamal Miller; Lassi Lappalainen (Zorhan Bassong, 64’), Victor Wanyama, Rida Zouhir (Matko Miljevic, 82’), Mathieu Choiniere (Zachary Brault-Guillard, 83’); Djordje Mihailovic, Romell Quioto, Joaquín Torres
Scoring: Santos Laguna - Alberto Ocejo (88’); CF Montréal - None
Disciplinary: Santos Laguna - Brian Lozano (Yellow - 6’); CF Montréal - Rommell Quioto (Yellow - 26’), Zorhan Bassong (Yellow - 80’)