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Match recap: Santos Laguna 0, Monterrey 0

Santos and Rayados remain scoreless after the first 90 minutes of the Liguilla quarterfinal series.

Victor Manuel Vucetich (R), head coach of Monterrey looks on during the quarterfinals first leg match between Santos Laguna and Monterrey as part of the Torneo Clausura 2023 Liga MX at Corona Stadium on May 10, 2023 in Torreon, Mexico. Photo by Jos Alvarez/Jam Media/Getty Images

After a thrilling match to get to the Liguilla, Santos looked primed to carry that momentum into a home match against regional rivals Monterrey. Instead, Rayados came in and ground out a 0-0 draw, their physical play sending the series to Estadio BBVA the same as it started.

The big story before the game was the return of Carlos Acevedo into the starting lineup, with repechaje hero Gibran Lajud returning to the bench. Acevedo was tested early, as Germán Berterame had a shot from distance in the second minute that went straight at Acevedo for the (relatively) easy save. Rayados had a bit more of possession early, but Santos’ defense held well and forced them into low percentage shots and poor passes. Santos meanwhile had a hard time getting anything going, as their opportunities were limited by Monterrey’s physical play. Omar Campos had Santos’ first good look of the evening in the 17th minute, but he pushed his shot high and wide of the near post.

Play started opening up a bit as both teams started feeling a bit more comfortable in the match. Dória had a rip from distance in the 23rd that was just on the outside of the post, one that most likely would have beaten goalkeeper Esteban Andrada had it stayed on frame. Then at the other end Arturo González had a redirection in the box that missed wide. Campos had another chance in the 27th minute but scuffed the shot and Andrada easily made the stop. Jesús Gallardo had a shot from distance ten minutes later that Acevedo stopped. There wasn’t much else in the remaining eight minutes or the lone minute of stoppage, and the teams went into the locker rooms tied at zero.

The second half started much like the first, however there started to be more fouls awarded which resulted in set piece opportunities, predominantly for Santos. Unfortunately though the chances didn't amount to much in the way of chances. Raúl “Dedos” López had a good chance in the 65th from the run of play, but it was deflected out just wide of the net.

The chances just didn’t come. Santos, normally so steady in transition, looked out of sorts. Touches were poor, with tired legs unable to remain under control when it mattered most. Rayados however couldn’t get anything going either, often allowing Santos freedom of movement while they sat back in defense. The game did get tense late in the match when Javier Correa and Esteban Andrada started jawing at one another and had to be separated by referee Luis Enrique Santander. Then in the dying seconds Rodrigo Aguirre made a run into the box and went down, immediately screaming for a penalty call but the replays showed he tripped over his own feet and nothing was granted.

The teams will head to Monterrey, where they’ll pick up the second half of the series on Saturday, May 13 at 7:06 PM local time.

Santos Laguna: Carlos Acevedo; Raúl López, Félix Torres, Matheus Dória, Omar Campos; Alan Cervantes, Aldo López (Lucas González, 88’); Diego Medina (Jair González, 76’), Juan Brunetta, Emerson Rodríguez (Cecilio Domínguez, 76’); Harold Preciado (Javier Correa, 71’)

Monterrey: Esteban Andrada; Diego Medina, Víctor Guzmán (Erick Aguirre, 78’), Hector Moreno, Jesús Gallardo; Maximiliano Meza (Duván Vergara, 67’), Celso Ortíz (Omar Govea, 82’), Luis Romo, Arturo González (Jordi Cortizo, 67’); Germán Berterame; Rogelio Funes Mori (Rodrigo Aguirre, 67’)

Scoring: Santos Laguna - None; Monterrey - None

Disciplinary: Santos Laguna - Raúl López (Yellow - 86’); Monterrey - Víctor Guzmán (Yellow - 63’), Jesús Gallardo (Yellow - 87’), Germán Berterame (Yellow - 90’)