Despite the ups and downs of what has been a tumultuous season, Santos had an opportunity to clinch a spot in the repechaje with a win over hapless Querétaro at home, What should have been an opportunity to move past some of the missed expectations instead ended in disaster as Querétaro got two goals in stoppage time to sink Santos, who now sit in eleventh place and must now hold off five teams within striking distance.
The teams spent a good deal of the first half trying to find spaces to play into, but there was precious little to be had. Santos was largely content to allow Querétaro to maintain possession and wait for the opportunity to counter, but precious few came. Santos had a good rush going forward in the 11th minute, but an errant pass from Salvador Mariscal ended any hope of an offensive chance. Gallos had their first chance of the evening in the 23rd minute on a shot from distance by Christian Rivera, but it sailed well wide of the far post. Juan Brunetta had a shot in the 28th, but because he was well defended it was rushed and went well high over the net. Then Harold Preciado had a fantastic chance on a ball that was deflected into the area, but his shot was waved at close range by Gil Alcalá.
Santos had a fantastic chance in the 34th minute when Brunetta got a bit of space and fired a shot that smashed off of the far post. The majority of the first half however was a bit of a quagmire, with both teams struggling to create many chances and even fewer instances of plans coming to fruition.
Disaster nearly struck at the start of the second half when Carlos Acevedo made a routine save but was run into by Oscar Manzanarez. Acevedo remained down for a couple of minutes holding his left shoulder. He was attended to by the training staff, and after several minutes he was able to continue in goal for Santos. Querétaro perhaps sensed an opportunity and came out on the front foot, much more so than in the first half, however they were still unable to seriously threaten Santos very much. They did have a good look in the 62nd minute when a cross almost connected with Kevin Escamilla in the box, but a good step by Manzanarez beat Escamilla to it and headed it out. A minute later José Zúñiga had a good chance with a chilena but Acevedo read it correctly and made the save.
Zúñiga looked to have scored in the 67th minute, beating Acevedo with a shot but he was correctly ruled to have been offside and the goal was annulled. Querétaro was looking dangerous, perhaps understanding the gravity of their situation. Santos meanwhile were holding on, sticking to their plan of patience. They got a good opportunity in the 74th, but Alcalá made a good save on a free kick from Juan Brunetta.
And while the match looked destined to end in a boring draw, Kevin Escamilla made contact on a corner kick in the fifth minute of stoppage, sending it into the back of the net off of the far post.
GOL de @Club_Queretaro— FOX Deportes (@FOXDeportes) April 24, 2023
Sorprenden a Acevedo y el balón entra por el segundo poste para el primero del partido #FOXLigaMX ⚽ con @SirJohnLaguna @marianot19 @emperadorsuarez @daniella_lg pic.twitter.com/UKOZbnz8YE
To add more insult and injury to insult and injury, immediately off of the re-start Ettson Ayón was able to get onto a long ball from deep and hit an absolute golazo into the top far corner to end the match.
Ah, qué golazo de Ayón @Club_Queretaro dejó lo mejor para el final #FOXLigaMX ⚽ con @SirJohnLaguna @marianot19 @emperadorsuarez @daniella_lg pic.twitter.com/KnBWkM1Y0T— FOX Deportes (@FOXDeportes) April 24, 2023
For the first time since the 2015 Apertura, Santos has lost four games at home. They will finish the regular season with a visit to Mexico City for a must-win match against Cruz Azul on Saturday, April 29. Querétaro meanwhile returns home to host Pachuca on Sunday, April 30, needing a win and some help in order to make the repechaje.
Santos Laguna: Carlos Acevedo; Omar Campos (Joshua Mancha, 86’), Félix Torres, Hugo Rodríguez, Oscar Manzanarez; Juan Brunetta, Salvador Mariscal, Jair González (Emerson Rodrígiez, 65’); Diego Medina (Rivaldo Lozano, 59’), Javier Correa (Eduardo Aguirre, 65’), Harold Preciado
Our starting GUERREROS for tonight’s battle! #ModoGuerrero ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/C7vT7oylfA— Club Santos EN (@ClubSantosEn) April 24, 2023
Gallos Blancos de Querétaro: Gil Alcalá; Christina Rivera, Miguel Barbieri (Rafael Fernández, 87’), Omar Mendoza, Manuel Duarte (Clifford Aboagye, 71’); Jonathan Perlaza, Kevin Escamilla, Kevin Balanta; Pablo Barrera (Rodrigo López, 77’), Ángel Sepúlveda (Ettson Ayón, 88’), José Zúñiga (Jonatán Torres, 77’)
TENEMOS ALINEACIÓN ⚫️— Gallos Blancos (@Club_Queretaro) April 24, 2023
Regístrate en @calientesports y recibe $1000 de regalo. https://t.co/J25SBknBGd#ApuestaEnCaliente pic.twitter.com/DjeJbhAvoy
Scoring: Santos Laguna - None; Gallos Blancos de Querétaro - Kevin Escamilla (90+5’), Ettson Ayón (90+6’)
Disciplinary: Santos Laguna - Oscar Manzanarez (Yellow - 79’); Gallos Blancos de Querétaro - Christian Rivera (Yellow - 19’), Miguel Barbieri (Yellow - 73’)