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Match recap: Monterrey 2, Santos Laguna 0

Monterrey moves on, downing Santos 2-0 to secure a spot in the semifinals.

Maximiliano Meza of Monterrey celebrates after scoring the team’s second goal during the quarterfinals second leg match between Monterrey and Santos Laguna as part of the Torneo Clausura 2023 Liga MX on May 13, 2023 in Monterrey, Mexico. Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images

After a surprise win to advance out of the repechaje, the clock has struck midnight on Santos Laguna’s Cinderella story. After a 0-0 draw in the first leg at home, Santos went to Monterrey and lost 2-0 to Rayados thanks to goals from Rogelio Funes Mori and Maximiliano Meza.

It didn’t take long for the game to stand out from the first leg, when in the second minute a Rayados cross was stopped in the box by Raúl “Dedos” López, but Rogelio Funes Mori was there to get to the rebound for the early tally for the home side.

Santos wasn’t going down without a fight. Santos won a couple of corner kicks, and in the tenth minute Monterrey had trouble clearing one out. The ball made it to Omar Campost, who put it into the box, with Matheus Dória re-directing it on frame. Esteban Andrada made the initial stop, but Dória poked the rebound in from his back. After a lengthy VAR review however the goal was disallowed, however replays showed that Santos fans might have had reason to feel aggrieved.

Santos kept the pressure on, but couldn’t seem to get things to line up. Passes were mis-hit, allowing for interceptions, goal kicks, or simply putting the receiver in poor positions to do anything with it. Harold Preciado had a good opportunity in the 27th minute but Andrada was there to grab it and hold on to it. In the 36th minute, a handball just outside of the box set Rayados up for a free kick, but Rodrigo Aguirre’s shot want just wide of the far post. Rayados however clamped down on the match, knowing Santos now had to score two goals after he half to advance.

The second half was a lot more of the same. Monterrey had a great chance in the 52nd minute when a long ball over the top fell in the sweet spot between the back line and goalkeeper, forcing Carlos Acevedo to win a foot race to clear the ball before Rodrigo Aguirre could get to it. In the 61st minute Rayados made a break, and Omar Govea hit a shot that hit the crossbar, eliciting a roar from the crowd. Two minutes later Félix Torres hit one off of his own post, luckily avoiding an autogol. Then Jordi Cortizo teed one up from just outside of the area that whistled just wide of the net.

Monterrey however finally broke through again in the 68th minute when Maxi Meza was left all alone on the right flank, getting a great ball over the top from Govea, putting a touch on it, and hitting a volley far post to put the match out of reach for Rayados.

Monterrey stayed on the front foot, pinning Santos in their own end and limiting the amount of touches they got on the ball. In the 85th minute Sebastián Vegas hit a roucket from distance that went just over the crossbar. Three minutes later Rodrigo Aguirre hit a shot that rolled just wide of the far post, missing by inches. The five minutes of stoppage were a mere formality, the only notable play was Dória hustling back to get a great touch to take the ball off of the foot of a Rayados attacker in the box, conceding a corner kick but not a penalty or a goal.

Santos will being their offseason preparations, while Rayados will await the results of the remaining series to see who they’ll face in the next round.

Monterrey: Esteban Andrada; Stefan Medina, Víctor Guzmán, Héctor Moreno, Jesús Gallardo (Sebastián Vegas, 74’); Maximiliano Meza (Germán Berterame, 74’), Celso Ortíz (Omar Govea, 55’), Luis Romo, Jordi Cortizo (Erick Aguirre, 74’); Rogelio Funes Mori (Joao Rojas, 80’), Rodrigo Aguirre

Santos Laguna: Carlos Acevedo; Omar Campos, Félix Torres, Matheus Dória, Raúl López; Aldo López (Lucas González, 60’), Alan Cervantes; Diego Medina (Jair González, 55’), Juan Brunetta, Emerson Rodríguez (Javier Correa, 60’); Harold Preciado (Eduardo Aguirre, 82’)

Scoring: Monterrey - Rogelio Funes Mori (2’), Maximiliano Meza (67’); Santos Laguna - None

Disciplinary: Monterrey - Jesús Gallardo (Yellow - 14’); Santos Laguna - Omar Campos (Yellow - 67’)