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Match recap: Santos Laguna 2, América 2

América overcomes a two goal deficit to salvage a draw against Santos.

Emilio Lara (L) of America fights for the ball with Omar Campos (R) of Santos during the 5th round match between Santos Laguna and America as part of the Torneo Clausura 2023 Liga MX at Corona Stadium on February 4, 2023 in Torreon, Mexico. Photo by Jos Alvarez/Jam Media/Getty Images

A good sign that a draw is a just result is one where neither team should be happy with the result. Santos should be unhappy that they squandered a two goal lead to allow América to come back. América should be unhappy that they let in a soft goal and couldn’t capitalize on Santos playing the final ten minutes of stoppage down a player to only get a 2-2 draw in Torreón.

América had the better of play early on, controlling possession well and making a couple of forays deep into Santos territory. Santos was however able to maintain their composure and disrupt the play before anything serious developed. In the third minute of play however they were able to break through, and Carlos Acevedo made a fantastic diving stop on a nice give-and-go opportunity between Richard Sánchez and Diego Valdés. Santos then had their first good chance of the evening when Jair González made a run down the right wing and threaded a pass through the box that just missed Omar Campos at the far post.

A scary scene in the 16th minute when Alejandro Zendejas was chasing Juan Brunetta and fell over on the pitch without receiving contact. Zendejas was in obvious pain and had to be carted off of the field, replaced immediately by Brian Rodríguez. Rodríguez made his presence felt shortly after coming on, whistling a shot just wide of the net in the 21st minute. A minute later Harold Preciado got a great ball over the top and knocked it past Oscar Jiménez for the game’s first goal.

There was a delay as referee Diego Montaño allowed the VAR booth time to review the goal, but the goal stood. Then mere seconds after the re-start, Henry Martín got a header on a cross into the box that went just wide of the net. Then a minute later Javier Correa hit a shot but Jiménez made the diving save. But perhaps the best save of the evening came in the 31st minute when Brian Rodríguez hit a shot on goal that Acevedo tipped, It wasn’t quite enough however, but Hugo Rodríguez came out of nowhere to clear the ball off of the line in a fantastic play. In the 35th minute, Preciado almost had a second when he hit a shot that Jiménez deflected off of the post and out of danger. Two minutes later Aldo López hit a rocket from deep that Jiménez turned up and over the bar. Santos kept pushing and finally got the second of the evening on a hard shot from Javier Correa that Jiménez got a hand on but couldn’t prevent from going into the back of the net.

América however looked determined to pull one back before the end of the half and got an opportunity in the fifth minute of stoppage when Raúl “Dedos” López stuck his knee out and caught Richard Sánchez in the box. Henry Martín converted the penalty, however there was some controversy as it looked like two América players had gone into the box before Martín made contact with the ball.

Even more controversy followed Martín, as before the end of the half he was whistled for a hard foul. Santos players and fans were adamant it was worthy of a red card, but a just yellow was shown.

Three minutes into the second half Acevedo was called to make a save on a rocket from distance. Acevedo then made a fantastic save in the 54th minute on a Richard Sánchez free kick, tipping it up and over the crossbar. América maintained a high level of pressure on Santos, however while clearly on the defensive, Santos didn’t allow América much in the way of opportunities. Santos too was limited in their offensive opportunities, both in quality and quantity. Henry Martín went for a second in the 66th minute, but his header was read perfectly by Acevedo, who made a routine save on something that was anything but.

Both teams battled hard, and in the 83rd minute América was awarded a free kick just outside of the box. The foul call raised the ire of Santos fans and manager Eduardo Fentanes, and the replays showed it was a perhaps sold very well. Roger Martínez capitalized, hitting a curling free kick that went through the wall and past Acevedo for the equalizer.

There was more controversy in the 88th minute when Lucas González was shown a yellow for a hard sliding tackle. Diego Montaño went to VAR and after a brief review came back onto the field, showing González a red card just 19 minutes into his first shift in a Santos kit. In the seventh minute of stoppage Roger Martínez hit a shot from distance, but Acevedo made a brilliant diving stop to preserve the draw for Santos. A minute later Preciado drove down the field and he, the América defender, and Oscar Jiménez all got tangled up in the box. While the ball went past Jiménez, it was going slowly enough that he was able to recover and gather it well before it crossed the line.

Santos heads to the Borderlands to take on FC Juárez on Saturday, February 11 while América returns home to host Necaxa, also on Saturday, February 11.

Santos Laguna: Carlos Acevedo; Raúl López, Félix Torres, Hugo Rodríguez, Omar Campos; Aldo López, Alan Cervantes; Javier Correa (Emerson Rodríguez, 70’), Jair González (Lucas González, 70’), Juan Brunetta (Matheus Dória, 80’); Harold Preciado

América: Oscar Jiménez; Emilio Lara, Néstor Araujo, Sebastián Cáceres, Salvador Reyes (Luis Fuentes, 62’); Richard Sánchez (Pedro Aquino, 76’), Álvaro Fidalgo; Alejandro Zendejas (Brian Rodríguez, 18’), Diego Valdés (Esteban Lozano, 75’), Jonathan Rodríguez (Roger Martínez, 62’); Henry Martín

Scoring: Santos Laguna - Harold Preciado (22’), Javier Correa (40’); América - Henry Martín (45+7’), Roger Martínez (83’)

Disciplinary: Santos Laguna - Juan Brunetta (Yellow - 9’), Eduardo Fentanes (Yellow - 84’), Lucas González (Red - 89’); América - Henry Martín (Yellow - 45+9’), Roger Martínez (Yellow - 84’)