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Match recap: Atlético San Luis 0, Santos Laguna 2

Two early goals propelled Santos to a win over San Luis, qualifying Los Guerreros for the postseason.

Felix Torres of Santos celebrates with teammates after scoring the team’s first goal during the 17th round match between Atletico San Luis and Santos Laguna as part of the Torneo Apertura 2023 Liga MX at Estadio Alfonso Lastras on November 11, 2023 in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Photo by /Jam Media/Getty Images

Against all odds, Santos picked up a road win on the final day of the season to qualify for the repechaje, downing San Luis 2-0. Santos took control of the game early, got two goals off of set pieces, and never looked back, punching their ticket to play postseason soccer.

Santos had the first chance of the match when Emerson Rodríguez was played in on goal, forcing Andrés Sánchez to come out and make a play. Rodríguez clipped Sánchez in the head on the way by, but after a brief stoppage Sánchez was up and able to continue. After a few minutes of some back-and-forth play, Santos took control of the match, pinning San Luis in their own end for a couple of minutes, culminating in a Juan Brunetta corner kick in the ninth minute that found the head of Félix Torres. Torres’ header froze Sánchez and the ball found the back corner of the net to give Santos the early lead.

Immediately after the goal, Santos raced down the pitch again with Brunetta blasting a shot that forced Sánchez to make another save. Brunetta’s corner kick this time found the head of Pedro Aquino, who headed it in off of the underside of the bar to double the lead.

San Luis tried to come back and gain some momentum, but they weren’t able to get much going. Santos came back down in the 21st minute and forced Sánchez to make a couple of great saves, one on an initial run by Brunetta and a second on the ensuing corner kick. Two minutes later San Luis got their first good chance when Leonardo Bonmatini was played through by a nice ball from Dieter Villalpando but rang his shot off of the side of the near post. The partisan crowd became vocally upset at every perceived foul that was not called, which resulted in some comical attempts by San Luis players to try and draw fouls.

Santos meanwhile continued on a very workmanlike pace, pressing San Luis and keeping much of the control of the ball in the San Luis End. Harold Preciado had a good look in the 33rd minute, but he hit his volley off of the outside of his foot, forcing the ball well into the stands. Preciado had another good opportunity in the 38th on a header that Sánchez did well to parry. Despite four minutes of injury time, neither side was able to add to the tally and Santos took a 2-0 lead to the locker room.

The second half started out with San Luis being a more active participant in the match. They were able to get control and retain control of large portions of the early parts of the half. Santos however was up to the task, keeping the dangerous chances to a minimum. In the 69th minute Atlético San Luis looked like they finally had a good chance when a Jürgen Damm cross found the head of Bonatini, but Ismael Govea was able to cover the ground and block the shot, much to the disbelief of the striker. Santos had a good chance in the 73rd when Harold Preciado was played in on goal, but he pushed his shot wide of the net.

San Luis almost put one past Acevedo in the 75th minute when Bonmatini got in on Acevedo, but the resulting shot hit off of the top of the crossbar, leaving Bonmatini visibly frustrated. Three minutes later Javier Correa had a decent look when he got into the box, but he was defended well and his shot went just wide of the net. In the 87th minute Dieter Villalpando hit a shot from distance but Acevedo saw it the entire way and made the save. Omar Campos had a look at the other end two minutes later but pushed his shot over the crossbar. As the time ticked down and fans started exiting the stadium, Pablo Repetto was caught on camera with a wide smile on his face, knowing that Santos had lived to fight another day.

Santos will face the eventual sixth seed in the first round of the repechaje, while San Luis’ place is still to be determined.

Atlético San Luis: Andrés Sánchez; Ricardo Chávez (Iker Moreno, 81’), Julio César Domínguez (Sebastien Salles-Lamonge, 46’), Unai Bilbao, Juan Sanabria; Javier Güémez, Rodrigo Dourado; Vitinho (Jürgen Damm, 67’), Dieter Villalpando, Jhon Murillo (Ángel Zaldívar, 81’); Leonardo Bonatini

Santos Laguna: Carlos Acevedo; Ismael Govea, Félix Torres, Roni Prieto, Omar Campos; Pedro Aquino, Alan Cervantes; Emerson Rodríguez (Raúl López, 75’), Juan Brunetta (Jair González, 78’), Duván Vergara (Diego Medina, 66’); Harold Preciado (Javier Correa, 75’)

Scoring: Atlético San Luis - None; Santos Laguna - Félix Torres (9’), Pedro Aquino (11’)

Disciplinary: Atlético San Luis - Juan Sanabria (Yellow - 31’), Unai Bilbao (Yellow - 31’), Ricardo Chávez, 79’); Santos Laguna - None