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Match recap: Santos Laguna 2, Mazatlán FC 1

A stellar performance from Juan Brunetta propels Santos in to the second Play In round against León

Juan Brunetta of Santos celebrates after scoring the team’s second goal during the Play-in match between Santos Laguna and Mazatlan FC as part of the Torneo Apertura 2023 Liga MX at Corona Stadium on November 23, 2023 in Torreon, Mexico Photo by Manuel Guadarrama/Getty Images

A dominant first half gave way to a nervy second half, but a two-goal performance from Juan Brunetta has Santos Laguna advancing to the second leg of the Play In round, defeating Mazatlán 2-1 in a chilly Torreón.

Santos had most of the possession in the early part of the match, and it paid off in the sixth minute when Ismael Govea hit a fantastic cross into the box. Juan Brunetta made a run from deep, coming in completely unmarked to get his toe on it and knock it in to give the hosts the early lead.

The goal woke Mazatlán up a bit, as the visitors began to apply pressure. In the 14th minute Josue Colman had a good look, but his header on a wonderful cross went just wide of the net. Overall however the match didn’t favor one side over the other too much. Santos was happy to sit back and press when the ball made its way from the center backs. Mazatlán meanwhile seemed content to retain possession, trying to goad Santos into overcommitting on the press and leaving spaces to exploit.

Santos had another decent chance in the 31st when Harold Preciado drove into the box, drawing out Hugo González, however González read the play perfectly and made the save. Santos had a slight advantage for the rest of the first half, but neither side was able to do too much with possession and the sides went into the locker with Santos holding the one goal lead.

Mazatlán didn’t waste time getting back into the match. A poor tackle from Ismael Govea lead to a free kick in deep for Mazatlán. It was a low line drive into the box that Santos couldn’t clear and Sergio Flores hammered home to draw the sides level.

Santos had a good opportunity to go back in front in the 51st minute on a corner kick, but Félix Torres couldn’t quite get his head onto it and the ball went out of bounds. Santos then had a good opportunity in the 60th when Brunetta played a perfect ball forward for Emerson Rodríguez, but Rodríguez was defended well and his shot went into the side netting. Then at the other end Colman got on the end of a great cross, but sent it just wide of the net. In the 69th minute, Santos got out on a break and Harold Preciado got played in on goal. He hit a pass back to a wide open Brunetta, who knocked it into the net. The AR raised his flag, and the goal was ruled off but after a lengthy VAR review Preciado was ruled onside and the goal stood.

A Roni Prieto foul in the 74th allowed a Mazatlán free kick, but Carlos Acevedo saw it the entire way and stopped it. On the ensuing counterattack, Santos was able to break away but a fantastic sliding tackle spoiled what would have been an easy goal for Santos. Then in the 78th, a long distance shot from Jefferson Intriago forced Acevedo to tip it up and over the bar. Three minutes later Francisco “Paco” Venegas found himself in the box with the ball at his feet. He forced the defender to slide by and had an open look at the net, but sent his shot well into the stands.

In the 83rd Emerson Rodríguez was played in on a great ball from Brunetta, but while he was able to get past Hugo Rodríguez, an astute clearance off of the line kept Mazatlán in the match. Then in the first minute of stoppage time, Javier Correa made his way into the box and hit a shot that got past González but hit flush off of the post and went out. Two minutes later Correa pressured González in to a mistake and took the ball off of his foot, but González was able to recover and poke the ball out of bounds before Correa could recover. Correa then forced González off of his line in the 95th, but the ball got tangled up in his feet and it went out of bounds.

Mazatlán became increasingly desperate, and had a decent enough chance in the sixth minute of stoppage, but the ball went just wide of the net in the final chance of the evening. Santos advances to face León in the second round of the Play In.

Santos Laguna: Carlos Acevedo; Ismael Govea, Félix Torres, Roni Prieto, Omar Campos; Alan Cervantes, Pedro Aquino (Aldo López, 40’); Emerson Rodríguez (Jair González, 85’), Juan Brunetta, Duván Vergara (Diego Medina, 63’); Harold Preciado (Javier Correa, 85’)

Mazatlán FC: Hugo González; Bryan Colula, Facundo Almada, Luis Olivas, Francisco Venegas (Raúl Camacho, 88’); Jefferson Intriago, Sergio Flores (Eduard Bello, 76’); Edgar Bárcenas (Alan Medina, 46’), Andrés Montaño, Josue Colman; Luis Amarilla

Scoring: Santos Laguna - Juan Brunetta (6’, 72’); Mazatlán FC - Sergio Flores (46’)

Disciplinary: Santos Laguna - Harold Preciado (Yellow - 59’), Roni Prieto (Yellow - 74’), Ismael Govea (Yellow - 90+4’); Mazatlán FC - Luis Olivas (Yellow - 26’), Jefferson Intriago (Yellow - 27’), Francisco Venegas (Yellow - 29’)