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Match recap: Club América 4, Santos Laguna 3

An entertaining match that saw América down Santos 4-3 at Estadio Azteca.

Alejandro Zendejas (C) of America celebrates with his teammates after scoring the team’s fourth goal during the 13th round match between America and Santos Laguna as part of the Torneo Apertura 2023 Liga MX at Azteca Stadium on October 21, 2023 in Mexico City, Mexico. Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images

With the international break over, Liga MX teams returned to the pitch. Along with them returned the absolute madness that is Liga MX, with the return of Santos Laguna’s star goalkeeper Carlos Acevedo marked with a match that saw the sides combine for seven goals as América outlasted Santos 4-3 at Estadio Azteca.

Foreshadowing the remainder of the match, Santos took a lead before the end of the first minute of play when they won an early free kick from about 25 yards out and Juan Brunetta hit a shot that Luis Malagón misjudged, allowing the ball to sneak into the corner of the net.

América came down the pitch and immediately began applying pressure to Santos, but Santos held firm and eventually made their way back down the pitch. América had a decent chance in the eighth minute of play with a Jonathan Dos Santos shot from distance, but Acevedo saw it the entire way and punched it aside easily. Two minutes later Brunetta tried his luck on a shot during a counterattack but Malagón stopped it. Then in the 13th minute Kevin Álvarez hit a great cross to Henry Martín, who headed it back across the grain, catching Acevedo going the wrong way as the ball floated into the back of the net to the shrieks of delight of the home crowd.

A minute later Jonathan “Cabecita” Rodríguez hit a shot from the top of the box that whistled just wide of the net. Rodríguez would get his goal however in the 18th when América’s offense overwhelmed Santos’ patchwork defense and Julián Quiñones hit a nice flick back to Rodríguez, who all but walked the ball in to give América the lead.

The lead lasted less than a minute however because América turned the ball over cheaply and Harold Preciado went through América’s defense, hitting a shot that hit a sliding Ramón Juárez and went up and over Malagón to knot the game at 2-2.

While the game seemed to calm down somewhat, both teams looked pretty evenly matched. Julián Quiñones had a decent shot in the 33rd minute that Acevedo read well and stopped easily. Then in the 43rd minute América had a free kick from a dangerous spot. Dos Santos took the shot and it hit a Santos player in the wall, forcing Carlos Acevedo to make a brilliant diving save. Santos fans held their breath after he remained down for a moment, indicating his shoulder was injured, but after a brief look by the medical staff he remained in the game. Then deep in the stoppage of the first half, Quiñones hit a shot in the box that hit Roni Prieto in the armpit. Referee César Ramos immediately pointed to the spot, and Quiñones drilled one into the far corner of the net to give América the lead heading into the locker room.

As if the chaos of the first half wasn’t enough, it continued into the second half. Just six minutes into the second stanza, Emerson Rodríguez got a hot pass into position, turned, and fired a missile past Malagón to pull Santos level.

Two minutes later Henry Martín tried his luck with another header, but this time Acevedo was able to swat it out of the air and save a goal. Then in the 60th it looked like Santos had taken the lead when Hugo Rodríguez headed a corner kick back across the box with Preciado tapping it in, but César Ramos ruled it offside and a quick VAR review from the booth confirmed the call was correct. The game settled down a bit, but flared back up in the 76th minute when Alex Zendejas hit a nice left-footed shot from inside the box to reclaim the lead for the home side.

Then it was Malagón’s turn to come up big on a free kick, punching a Juan Brunetta effort out of harm’s way in the 81st minute. In stoppage Henry Martín had a nice effort that went just wide of the net, but had it gone it would have been ruled offside. Then on the next venture down field Martín lofted a nice pass up to Julián Quiñones, but his header was well saved by Acevedo. Then on the final play of the match, Acevedo came up for a corner kick attempt that didn’t quite work out for Santos. América was able to counter and knocked the ball into the net, but it was ruled offside before César Ramos whistled for full time.

América will now travel to Monterrey to face Rayados on Saturday, October 28 while Santos returns home to host regional rivals Juárez on Sunday, October 29.

Club América: Luis Malagón; Kevin Álvarez (Sebastián Cáceres, 84’), Igor Lichnovsky, Ramón Juárez, Luis Fuentes (Salvador Reyes, 84’); Jonathan Dos Santos, Álvaro Fidalgo (Richard Sánchez, 71’); Leonardo Suárez (Alejandro Zendejas, 61’), Julián Quiñones, Jonathan Rodríguez (Brian Rodríguez, 61’); Henry Martín

Santos Laguna: Carlos Acevedo; Raúl López, Hugo Rodríguez, Roni Prieto, Omar Campos; Aldo López (Duván Vergara, 81’), Pedro Aquino (Salvador Mariscal, 68’), Alan Cervantes; Emerson Rodríguez, Harold Preciado, Juan Brunetta

Scoring: Club América - Henry Martín (12’), Jonathan Rodríguez (18’), Julián Quiñones (45+4’ - penalty), Alejandro Zendejas (75’); Santos Laguna - Juan Brunetta (1’), Harold Preciado (19’), Emerson Rodríguez (51’)

Disciplinary: Club América - Julián Quiñones (Yellow - 25’), Igor Lichnovsky (Yellow - 89’); Santos Laguna - Roni Prieto (Yellow - 45+3’), Emerson Rodríguez (Yellow - 68’), Aldo López (Yellow - 79’)