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Match recap: Santos Laguna 0, León 2

A tough loss for Santos, however León could be missing a key player for a while.

Adonis Frias of Leon celebrates the team’s second goal scored by teammate Paul Bellón (not in frame) during the 12th round match between Santos Laguna and Leon as part of the Torneo Apertura 2023 Liga MX at Corona Stadium on October 8, 2023 in Torreon, Mexico. Photo by Jos Alvarez/Jam Media/Getty Images

A rare rainy evening in Torreón turned into a painful match in more ways than one, with León getting a 2-0 win against a short-handed Santos side while losing a key player of their own. With the result, León rockets into eighth place on the table (pending the results of the Xolos- San Luis game) while Santos will enter the international break in 12th place on the table with a game in hand.

León had the first chance of the evening with a shot from Federico Viñas from distance that Héctor Holguín handled easily. Soon after that Nicolás “El Diente” López got the ball and took a shot that went wide, but it was ruled offside just the same. León was pressing well and forcing Santos into uncomfortable situations early. In the fourth minute, Federico Viñas went into a challenge against Hugo Rodríguez and wound up down on the pitch, holding his right arm. While there was nothing untoward on the play, Viñas nonetheless had to be taken off of the pitch on a golf cart and was subbed out a few minutes later for Brian Rubio.

Santos had a decent look in the ninth minute when Emerson Rodríguez sent a ball in but goalkeeper Rodolfo Cota went up and got it out of the air before danger ever materialized. Duván Vergara tried his luck in the 12th minute, but the wild shot went well wide and high of the target. Then disaster struck in the 13th minute when Félix Torres went in high on Rubio’s leg and was immediately shown a red card.

Santos did however create some chances. A Juan Brunetta free kick in the 18th minute arced into the box and was played well by Cota. At the other end, Holguín made a great punch-out in the 25th minute on a ball that was floated into the area. Four minutes later León made a good forage into Santos’ end but could only muster a Fidel Ambríz shot that went well into the stands. Holguín did well in the 40th minute to punch out a corner kick that was sent into the box as well. León kept pressuring but Santos had a decent chance in the first minute of stoppage heading into the half with a nice give-and-go between Brunetta and Harold Preciado that resulted in Brunetta’s shot being tipped into the stands for a corner. Santos couldn’t convert it however, and León came down to the Santos end and set up shop. A nice set of passes wound up with Rubio tapping a ball on to Diente López, and he volleyed it in past Holguín to give the guests the lead heading into the break.

Heading into the break as the teams went to the locker rooms, a small scuffle broke out with Harold Preciado and Ángel Mena jawing at one another and the teams engaging in some pushing and shoving. During the actual game play of the second half, León had a decent attempt in the 49th minute that Holguín did well to swat away. After a couple of corner kicks that Santos couldn’t clear away, Paul Bellón got a header that evaded everyone on its way into the back of the net to double the lead for the visitors.

León wasn’t done, and in the 55th minute Fidel Ambríz teed off a shot that Holguín did well to stop. La Fiera kept coming in waves however, giving Santos no time to rest and regroup. The home side did get a couple of decent runs into the León end, but were largely unable to create much due to the smothering defense.

Holguín meanwhile continued to stand on his head to keep Santos in the match. The goalkeeper made a good save on Diente López in the 63rd minute and then moments later denied Ambríz on a shot from close range. Sebastián Santos had a good look in the 83rd minute, but Holguín did well to make himself as big as possible and stopped the shot. And while both teams tried to make something happen, neither were able to throughout the remainder of the match, with León picking up all three points without either team suffering any further injuries.

Santos heads to Mexico City to face América on Saturday, October 21 while Leon will host Toluca at home on the same date.

Santos Laguna: Héctor Holguín; Raúl López (Jair González, 75’) , Félix Torres, Hugo Rodríguez, Omar Campos; Alan Cervantes, Aldo López; Emerson Rodríguez (Roni Prieto, 16’), Juan Brunetta, Duván Vergara (Diego Medina, 68’); Harold Preciado

León: Rodolfo Cota; Iván Moreno (Luis Cervantes, 80’), Adonis Frias, Paul Bellón, Osvaldo Rodríguez; Ángel Mena, Lucas Romero; Fidel Ambríz (Sebastián Santos, 80’), José Alvarado (Héctor Uribe, 80’); Federico Viñas (Brian Rubio, 8’), Nicolás López (Sebastián Santos, 64’)

Scoring: Santos Laguna - None; León - Nicolás López (44’), Paul Bellón (50’)

Disciplinary: Santos Laguna - Félix Torres (Red - 13’), Juan Brunetta (Yellow - 33’), Hugo Rodríguez (Yellow - 72’); León - Iván Moreno (Yellow - 24’)