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Match recap: Atlas 2, Santos Laguna 1

Despite a good start, Santos lose their third straight against Atlas, who have a share of the top spot on the table.

Jairo Torres of Atlas celebrates with teammates after scoring his team’s second goal during the 4th round match between Atlas and Santos Laguna as part of the Torneo Grita Mexico C22 Liga MX at Jalisco Stadium on February 6, 2022 in Guadalajara, Mexico. Photo by Carlos Zepeda/Jam Media/Getty Images

Atlas pick up a good win at home to stay level with Puebla atop the Liga MX table, downing Santos Laguna 2-1. Santos started off with intensity, but had little in the way of answers after going down and have now lost three in a row for the first time in the regular season since April 2018.

The match started off with both teams struggling in possession and looking to foul out of it. Neither team was able to show much of an advantage or create chances, with the first coming in the sixth minute of play when Julián Quiñones hit a shot that went well wide of the net. Slowly Atlas began getting more of the possession, and in the tenth minute Diego Barbosa hit a cross into the box towards Julio Furch. Furch jumped into the Santos defender and went down, but referee Jorge Antonio Pérez kept his whistle silent on the occasion.

A minute later at the other end Brian Lozano was fouled and Santos was awarded a free kick from about 25 yards out. “Huevo” Lozano hit a fantastic free kick, but Camilo Vargas saw it the entire way and punched it out of danger. Two minutes later Lozano was fouled again in about the same spot and took the resulting free kick, however this time it went over the crossbar.

At the other end, Barbosa drove in from right-to-left and hit a swerving shot on frame, but Carlos Acevedo saw it the entire way and was able to smother the ball against the turf. The play continued in the Santos end, and made a good play to get past the defender and put the ball into the box. It went toward Julián Quiñones, but Félix Torres was able to get to it first and smashed it in a clearing attempt. Unfortunately the attempt went off of Quiñones who was able to get the ball along the end line in on goal. Quiñones attempted to lift the ball over Acevedo, but Acevedo was able to hang onto it. A minute later Quiñones was sent in on goal on a counterattack, but his shot went wide of the net. Then in the 28th minute a corner kick for Atlas went into the box and Hugo Nervo’s header hit off of Alan Cervantes and in for the autogol.

After the goal play kind of hit a lull, and although Atlas kept the pressure on Santos, the visitors were able to get a decent chance in the 40th minute when they broke down field on a counterattack. Fernando Gorriarán hit a shot on the counter, however it went just over the target in what would have been a spectacular goal. As the half was drawing to a close, Camilo Vargas caught Santos on a restart, hitting the ball to a streaking Julio Furch. Furch got a touch on the ball, which drew Carlos Acevedo out of his net. The touch fell to Jairo Torres, and he hit a shot into the back of the net to extend the lead to 2-0 as the half drew to a close.

Santos tried to get something going in the second half, and had a good chance in the 48th minute with another free kick from short range. Lozano again took the kick, but Vargas read it perfectly and knocked it out for a corner kick. The game settled into a bit of a rhythm with Santos trying to go on the offensive but often being drawn back to defend against Atlas. Atlas had a decent opportunity in the 77th when Julián Quiñones went past a lot of the Santos defense and looked to be in on goal on a breakaway, but got perhaps a bit too selfish and despite having options on either side he dribbled into trouble and the ball was eventually cleared out.

Santos drew one back late when new signing Harold Preciado stayed onside, heading the ball out to “Mudo” Aguirre on the right, who headed it back to Preciado. Preciado made a fantastic touch with the outside of his foot and then hit the volley before it hit the ground past Vargas for his first goal in Liga MX.

Try as they might, Santos couldn’t find an equalizer and almost conceded a third late on a Quiñones shot that went just over the bar. Atlas heads to Puebla to take on La Franja on Friday, February 11 while Santos returns home to host Club América on Saturday, February 12.

Atlas: Camilo Vargas; Luis Reyes, Hugo Nervo, Anderson Santamaría (Gaddi Aguirre, 68’), Emanuel Aguilera, Diego Barbosa; Jeremy Márquez (Edgar Zaldívar, 60’), Jairo Torres (Christopher Trejo, 81’); Julián Quiñones, Julio Furch (Ozziel Herrera, 81’)

Santos Laguna: Carlos Acevedo; Omar Campos, Matheus Dória, Félix Torres, Hugo Rodríguez (Ulísas Rivas, 82’), Carlos Orrantia; Brian Lozano (Harold Preciado, 77’), Fernando Gorriarán, Alan Cervantes; Ignacio Jeraldino (Leo Suárez, 68’), Eduardo Aguirre

Scoring: Atlas - Alan Cervantes (autogol - 28’), Jairo Torres (45+1’); Santos Laguna - Harold Preciado (84’)

Disciplinary: Atlas - Edgar Zaldívar (Yellow - 72’); Santos Laguna - Alan Cervantes (Yellow - 64’), Ulíses Rivas (Yellow - 89’), Eduardo Aguirre (90+2’)