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Match recap: Santos Laguna 3, Pachuca 1

Santos pick up their fourth win under Eduardo Fentanes, downing Guillermo Almada’s Pachuca 3-1.

Harold Preciado (R) of Santos celebrates with teammates Ulises Rivas (L) and Brian Lozano (C) after scoring his team’s second goal during the 12th round match between Santos Laguna and Pachuca as part of the Torneo Grita Mexico C22 Liga MX at Corona Stadium on April 3, 2022 in Torreon, Mexico. Photo by Armando Marin/Jam Media/Getty Images

A lot was written in the days and weeks leading up to the match between Santos and Pachuca about the return of former Santos manager Guillermo Almada to Torreón. Almada had taken a Pachuca team that missed out on the repechaje last season and had them in first place going into the week. Not much however had been written about Eduardo Fentanes, the manager that replaced Pedro Caixinha after a disastrous start. Fentanes has spent most of his career managing in the Ascenso MX and was largely seen as a stopgap to see out the season with Santos.

This might change however after Santos picked up their fourth win under Fentanes, downing Almada’s Pachuca 3-1. Santos held their own against Los Tuzos, got a couple of breaks, and then was able to fend off a desperate Pachuca in a great display in front of their home fans.

Neither team looked particularly dangerous in the early minutes of the match, as it was almost expected with the teams coming back from the international break. Santos had the first dangerous chance in the sixth minute when Harold Preciado made a nice move to get in past the Pachuca back line, but he had largely run out of room by the time he was able to shoot and his attempt went straight into Oscar Ustari. Most of the play was in the middle third of the pitch however, with Santos perhaps having a slight edge in the overall direction of play.

Pachuca got a break in the 33rd minute when Avilés Hurtado got on the end of a nice pass just outside of the box and went down after contact from Ulíses Rívas. Taken from just inches outside of the box, the free kick went straight into the teeth of the Santos defense and was cleared out. In the 37th, Romario Ibarra had a go from distance, but it wound up going well wide of the far post. A minute later Gustavo Cabral grabbed hold of Harold Preciado’s arm as the two went into the box. Preciado went down, and a penalty was awarded and Cabral was shown a yellow card. Brian Lozano stepped up and converted the penalty to give Santos the lead.

In the 45th it looked like Pachuca scored on a free kick, but referee Adonai Escobedo waved the goal off, saying he hadn’t blown the whistle to restart play. The re-try went well over the crossbar and Santos’ lead went into the locker with them at the half.

Pachuca came out strong in the second half, with Nico Ibáñez getting a shot from the top of the box that went wide in the 47th. But Santos weathered it and created some luck of their own in the 50th minute. Kevin Álvarez tried to dribble away from Lozano and instead gave the ball away to Lozano just outside of the box. Lozano got the defense to commit and then centered it to a wide open Harold Preciado for an easy goal past a defenseless Ustari.

Preciado almost had a second in the 52nd when he was sprung on a break, but Ustari read it well and was able to make the save on Preciado’s shot. Pachuca didn’t give up, but Santos definitely re-gained a lot of momentum after Preciado’s goal. That seemed to be nullified in the 68th minute when Jordan Carrillo was shown a straight red card for a foul. Replays showed that Carrillo did in fact step on the ankle of Erick Sánchez, but it was not as violent as it initially looked. Escobedo overturned the red card after a VAR review, showing Carrillo a yellow instead. Carrillo repaid this in the 75th minute when Omar Campos found him in the box. Carrillo made a couple of moves to shake the defense and then hit a left footed blast past Ustari to extend the lead to three.

Pachuca drew one back however in the 81st minute when Avilés Hurtado flicked a cross into the box that found the head of a loosely guarded Ibáñez, flicking it in past Acevedo for his eighth goal of the season.

Santos kept going, hitting Pachuca on a counter in the 88th minute but José Ávila’s blast from a tight angle was saved well by Ustari. Acevedo was called to make one more save in the fifth minute of stoppage time, but Santos was able to hold on and pick up their fourth win on the season.

Santos’ next match is at Monterrey on Saturday, April 9 while Pachuca returns home to host Tigres on Thursday, April 7 before hosting Tijuana on Monday, April 11.

Club Santos: Carlos Acevedo; Carlos Orrantia (Hugo Rodríguez, 84’), Félix Torres, Matheus Dória, Omar Campos; Leo Suárez (José Ávila, 84’), Alan Cervantes, Ulíses Rívas (Edgar Games, 84’), Brian Lozano (Franco Pizzichillo,82’); Eduardo Aguirre (Jordan Carrillo, 65’), Harold Preciado

Pachuca: Oscar Ustari; Daniel Aceves (Fernando Navarro, 71’), Miguel Tapias, Gustavo Cabral, Kevin Álvarez; Erick Sánchez, Luis Chávez; Romario Ibarra (Yairo Moreno, 54’), Víctor Guzmán (Roberto de la Rosa, 54’), Avilés Hurtado; Nicolás Ibáñez

Scoring: Santos Laguna - Brian Lozano (40’ - penalty), Harold Preciado (50’), Jordan Carrillo (75’); Pachuca - Nicolás Ibáñez (80’)

Disciplinary: Santos Laguna - Ulíses Rívas (Yellow - 19’), Eduardo Aguirre (Yellow - 43’), Leo Suárez (Yellow - 55’), Jordan Carrillo (Yellow - 70’); Pachuca - Gustavo Cabral (Yellow - 38’)