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Match recap: Cruz Azul 1, Santos Laguna 2

A late game winning goal from Diego Medina and a stellar performance from Carlos Acevedo lift Santos to their first win of the season.

Brian Lozano (L) and Carlos Acevedo (R), goalkeeper of Santos react during the 7th round match between Cruz Azul and Santos Laguna as part of the Torneo Grita Mexico C22 Liga MX at Azteca Stadium on February 27, 2022 in Mexico City, Mexico. Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images

It didn’t look good for Santos. Coming into the match, their only victory had been in the first leg of the Concacaf Champions League match against CF Montréal. They then lost the second leg, and then had to face one of the best teams in the league on their own turf, taking on Cruz Azul at Estadio Azteca. They however played with a confidence that has been missing, downing Cruz Azul 2-1 on the back of a superhuman performance from Carlos Acevedo.

Both teams started out a bit slow, but that changed quickly. Santos had a decent chance in the third minute after Brian Lozano drew a foul just outside of the box, then hit the resulting free kick just over the bar. They converted however a minute later when Félix Torres headed a ball forward that was headed up by Julio “Cata” Domínguez Harold Preciado chested the ball and before it hit the ground was able to turn and fire, knocking it past Jesús “Chuy” Corona to give Santos the lead.

Santos kept the momentum, keeping pressure on Cruz Azul by keeping possession despite attempts to press them into making mistakes. Cruz Azul however was able to get some chances. In the 15th minute, a free kick found the head of Pablo Aguilar in the box, but he pushed it over the bar and out for a goal kick. More often than not however Cruz Azul couldn’t get past the Santos defense, resulting in turnovers or long shots that were not well placed. In the 17th though they sent a ball into the box toward Uriel Antuna. Roni Prieto was defending him and while they were chasing after the ball Antuna went down. replays showed Prieto grabbing Antuna’s arm, but the contact was minimal at best. César Ramos declined to go to VAR to review it, and Antuna took the penalty. Acevedo stopped it, then stopped the rebound shot. The ball then deflected off of a player and hit Acevedo, going back into the mixer. Rafa Baca tried a shot but Acevedo deflected that too, and then one final shot was stopped and smothered by Acevedo before being embraced by Matheus Dória and other teammates.

Acevedo then made another save in the 27th on a shot from Cata Domínguez, pushing it wide of the net and repeated the feat again in the 30th, this time pushing a Bryan Angulo shot wide. Cruz Azul’s flurry of chances didn’t end with them adding anything to the scoreboard. Despite an seven minutes added on to the end of the half, there was no change in the score from Preciado’s goal in the fourth minute.

Cruz Azul looed determined to make up for their mistakes in the first half, getting the better of possession and keeping the ball in the Santos end for long stretches. Santos however did get a decent chance in the 52nd when a turnover in the box was sent into Preciado, who turned and fired. Unfortunately for him Pablo Aguilar got in the way and deflected the shot out of bounds. In the 56th, a free kick was sent to Leo Suárez, who unleashed a blast that Chuy Corona hit up in the air. It bounced up and off of the crossbar, and the goalkeeper was only just able to clear it out before it was knocked in by the onrushing Preciado.

At the other end, Acevedo made another fantastic save in the 58th, diving in front of a shot from distance by Ignacio “Nacho” Rivero. Cruz Azul finally broke through in the 63rd when Ángel Romero was played down the right flank and got past David Andrade, who had just subbed on. Romero hit a cross into the box that was headed by Nacho Rivero and past Acevedo to pull the sides even.

Cruz Azul almost struck again in the 69th off of a free kick that took a wild bounce in front of Acevedo and deflected up and off of him, ending up over the goal. Then off of the ensuing corner, Romero had a header that just missed the net. After this, Santos started getting more chances in the Cruz Azul end, winning corners and a couple of free kicks, but unfortunately weren’t able to do much with them. Beto Ocejo had a great chance in the 89th, getting a wide open header but pushing it wide. A minute later Eduardo “Mudo” Aguirre had a shot in the box that was deflected just wide of the net. Then in the dying seconds of the match, Fernando Gorriarán took a pass down the right side, took it almost to the end line, and then hit a cut=back pass to Diego Medina. Medina fired and it hit the heel of Pablo Aguilar, catching Chuy Corona wrong footed for the last second game winner.

A double jornada as Cruz Azul heads to Monterrey to face Tigres on Wednesday, March 2 before returning home to host Puebla on Saturday, March 5. Santos meanwhile hosts Pumas on Wednesday, March 2 before heading to Guadalajara to face Chivas on Saturday, March 5.

Cruz Azul: José de Jesús Corona; Adrián Aldrete, Pablo Aguilar, Julio Domínguez, José Juan Martínez (Ivan Morales, 82’); Rafa Baca (Ángel Romero, 55’), Erik Lira, Carlos Rodríguez (Rómulo Otero, 89’); Ignacio Rivero, Bryan Angulo (Santiago Giménez, 55’), Uriel Antuna

Santos Laguna: Carlos Acevedo; Roni Prieto (Carlos Orrantia, 62’), Félix Torres, Matheus Dória, Ismael Govea (David Andrade, 62’); Brian Lozano (Ulíses Rívas, 72’), Fernando Gorriarán, Alan Cervantes, Leo Suárez (Diego Medina, 72’); Harold Preciado (Beto Ocejo, 64’), Eduardo Aguirre

Scoring: Cruz Azul - Ignacio Rivero (63’); Santos Laguna - Harold Preciado (4’), Diego Medina (90+4’)

Disciplinary: Cruz Azul - Ángel Romero (Yellow - 81’), Ignacio Rivero (Yellow - 84’); Santos Laguna - Fernando Gorriarán (Yellow - 45+6’), Ismael Govea (Yellow - 60’), Matheus Dória (Yellow - 68’)