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Match recap: Necaxa 0, Santos Laguna 0

Both teams struggled to find their rhythm until late as Necaxa and Santos play to a 0-0 draw.

Edgar Mendez of Necaxa shot the ball against Oscar Manzanarez of Santos Laguna during the 13th round match between Necaxa and Santos Laguna as part of the Torneo Clausura 2023 Liga MX at Victoria Stadium on March 31, 2023 in Aguascalientes, Mexico. Photo by Leopoldo Smith/Getty Images

While both Necaxa and Santos rather needed all three points as teams jockey for position as the 2023 Clausura regular season comes to a close, the match between the two ended in a 0-0 draw. Santos may be the happier side, the lone point from the match pushing them slightly closer (albeit probably only temporarily) to a home game in the repechaje while Necaxa will also get the temporary boost into the repechaje zone.

Both teams looked disjointed after a week off, seeking time and space to develop a rhythm. Santos looked like they had a great chance in the fifth minute when a nice backheel from Santiago Muñoz sprung Juan Brunetta, but his shot was blocked and whistled offside for good measure. In the eighth minute, another good pass from Muñoz found Harold Preciado in space in the box. Preciado’s resulting shot hit the far post and the rebound went to Brunetta, but he seemed surprised by it and lost it in his feet before knocking it out inadvertently.

This sort of discombobulation wasn’t Brunetta’s burden to bear alone however. Most players found themselves dealing or dealing with poorly weighted or mis-timed passes, bad touches, and poor shots at one point or another.

Santos had the better quality possession early on, but Necaxa had their chances, earning a couple of corner kicks . Unfortunately for them they couldn’t convert either. Most times however Necaxa couldn’t maintain control for very long and couldn’t get much going for them. To their credit however they were able to keep Santos off-balance just enough to keep things level. Dória had the best chance of the half when in stoppage time of the first half took a free kick from 25 yards out that went just over the bar.

Necaxa started the second half hot though as Edgar Méndez had a shot along the ground that forced Acevedo to make a fantastic save. Santos answered in the 50th minute with a shot from distance from Dória, but Hugo González was positioned well and made the easy save. González made a much more difficult save in the 63rd when Juan Brunetta got through and hit a shot, forcing the goalkeeper to make a reaction save to tip it over. In the 67th Preciado was played through, but González did well to cut down the angle and make himself big to force the forward to chip it over and out. Then on the next sequence, Edgar Mendéz got a clear shot on goal but missed the far post.

The game got bogged down with teams getting stuck in the midfield trying to make a pass or run to unlock the opposition defense, but neither could figure the other out for long swaths of the match. Necaxa did start to get the upper hand late, and in the 81st Omar Campos made a brilliant play to stop a Necaxa shot at close range. Then in the 84th minute Acevedo made a fantastic diving save to tip away a curling free kick. In the dying seconds of the match, Facundo Batista had a scissor-kick that just missed the goal wide, perhaps a fitting end to the match that was close yet so far.

Necaxa heads to Guadalajara next Saturday, April 8 to play Chivas, while Santos heads home to host Pachuca on Sunday, April 9.

Necaxa: Hugo González; Josecarlos van Rankin, Agustín Oliveros, Alexis Peña, Juan Pable Segovia; Joaquín Esquivel, Fernando Madrigal (Rogelio Cortéz, 71’), Brayan Garnica (Juan Pablo Domínguez, 65’), Edgar Méndez; Damián Batallini (Heriberto Jurado, 65’), Ricardo Monreal (Facundo Batista, 45’)

Santos Laguna: Carlos Acevedo; Omar Campos, Feláx Torres, Matheus Dória (Diego Medina, 75’), Oscar Manzanarez; Alan Cervantes (Aldo López, 54’), Salvador Mariscal; Jair González, Juan Brunetta (Lucas González, 84’), Harold Preciado; Santiago Muñoz (Javier Correa, 54’)

Scoring: Necaxa - None; Santos Laguna - None

Disciplinary: Necaxa - Agustín Oliveros (Yellow - 12’), Joaquín Esquivel (Yellow - 34’); Santos Laguna - Alan Cervantes (Yellow - 14’), Oscar Manzanarez (Yellow - 82’)