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Match recap: Santos Laguna 3, Club Tijuana 2

Late heroics from the captain salvage a win at home for Santos against a Xolos side that came up just short.

Matheus Doria of Santos celebrates after scoring the team’s third goal during the 11th round match between Santos Laguna and Tijuana as part of the Torneo Clausura 2023 Liga MX at Corona Stadium on March 12, 2023 in Torreon, Mexico. Photo by Jos Alvarez/Jam Media/Getty Images

It wasn’t perhaps the prettiest or most entertaining match, but Santos and Xolos played a tight game where both teams managed to give good accounts of themselves. Unfortunately for Xolos fans, Santos came out on top, putting Xolos’ in a spot where they may have to fight to make the repechaje.

Xolos pressed early, getting a shot on goal in the second minute but Carlos Acevedo saved it easily. Santos however settled in and started to find their footing, pushing up the field and creating chances. Juan Brunetta got a great pass in from the right flank from Raúl “Dedos” López, but his shot was directed right at Antonio “Toño” Rodríguez. Both teams sat back in possession, looking for weaknesses in the other’s organization, however early on there were precious few to be found. Juan Brunetta looked to have scored a golazo in the 19th minute, but was called offside by AR Jéssica Morales, and the replays confirmed her call. Minutes later Rodrigo Parra went down after getting tangled up with Harold Preciado and although the play didn’t look too bad, Parra had to come out of the match on the golf cart.

In the 31st minute, Silvio Martínez hit a cross into the box that Acevedo made a diving punch on to clear. A bit of controversy in the 32nd when Ismael Govea slide tackled the ball off of Omar Campos feet in the box. Campos went down, but no call was given and the replays once again confirmed Ismael López got the call right. Antos had a great chance in the 38th when Campos found Preciado with a pass into the box, but Preciado was well defended and the pass was almost immediately cleared off of his foot. Preciado almost got a gift in the 44th minute when Nico Díaz turned the ball over to him, and Preciado fired a shot that went straight into the chest of Toño Rodríguez for a throw in. On the resulting set piece, Rodríguez tipped the ball up and out, but Javier Correa was in the right place at the right time and headed the ball through traffic and into the back of the net.

Xolos almost hit back two minutes into stoppage when Lucas Cavallini got free near the top of the box, but hhis shot went well high and wide of the net. Two minutes after that Xolos broke down the field and 11 hit a short pass out to Alexis Canelo, who rifled one into the back of the net to draw the sides level as they headed into the locker room.

Xolos came out strong to start the second half, pressuring Santos and trying to get the go ahead goal. Santos to their credit was compact on defense, not giving the visitors much to work with. Santos however did make a series of good moves in the 50th that resulted in a chilena attempt by Correa, but Toño Rodríguez saw it the whole way and made the stop. A minute later Correa got the ball in the box, and made a great move and uncorked a rocket that Rodríguez could not stop to give Santos the lead.

Javier Correa (C) of Santos celebrates with teammates after scoring the team’s second goal during the 11th round match between Santos Laguna and Tijuana as part of the Torneo Clausura 2023 Liga MX at Corona Stadium on March 12, 2023 in Torreon, Mexico.
Correa’s second goal of the game gives him four on the season, tying him with Juan Brunetta for second best on the team.
Photo by Jos Alvarez/Jam Media/Getty Images

Tijuana didn’t give up, trying immediately to pull level again. Lucas Cavallini had a shot that went high, and then a corner kick came dangerously close before being cleared out by Santos’ defense. Correa however almost had his third in the 58th when a great cross from Brunetta was hit by a flying kick, however it didn’t connect just right and went up in the air and Toño Rodríguez was able to snatch it out of the air. Cavallini then came down and hit a shot that Acevedo made a fantastic dicing save on, but a minute later a missed clearance by Dória allowed Cavallini to put a ball on to Lucas Rodríguez, who chipped Acevedo to draw the sides level once more.

Santos however got back on top in the 73rd minute when a corner kick found the head of Matheus Dória, who buried it into the net.

Santos almost notched another one when Preciado got a nice ball into the box, but Toño Rodríguez read it well and made the save, conceding nothing more than a corner kick. Xolos had a good chance in the 82nd, but a header went inches wide of the net. Late in the game Jair Díaz got mixed up in the box with Harold Preciado and came out of it with a bloody nose and had to come out to get the bleeding stopped. Santos managed to hang on to get three critical points at their fortress, while Tijuana heads back to La Frontera Norte having lost three out of four on the road this season. Santos heads to Guanajuato to face León on Sunday, March 19 while Tijuana will host Toluca on Friday, March 17.

Santos Laguna: Carlos Acevedo; Omar Campos (Rivaldo López, 64’) , Hugo Rodríguez (Félix Torres, 45’), Matheus Dória, Raúl López; Aldo López, Alan Cervantes (Lucas González, 64’); Javier Correa (Salvador Mariscal, 79’), Juan Brunetta, Diego Medina (Jair González, 65’); Harold Preciado

Club Tijuana: Antonio Rodríguez; Ismael Govea, Rodrigo Parra (Jair Díaz, 23’), Rodrigo Godínez, Nicolás Díaz; Lucas Rodríguez, Federico Lertora (Misael Domínguez, 77’), Silvio Martínez, Leo López (Eduardo Armenta, 62’); Alexis Canelo, Lucas Cavallini (Braian Romero, 77’)

Scoring: Santos Laguna - Javier Correa (45’, 51’), Matheus Dória (73’); Club Tijuana - Alexis Canelo (45+3’), Lucas Rodríguez (60’)

Disciplinary: Santos Laguna - Aldo López (Yellow - 81’); Club Tijuana - Jair González (Yellow - 86’)