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Match recap: Puebla F.C. 2, Santos Laguna 3

After a slow start, Santos gets some big plays from key players to earn all three points on the road against Puebla.

Harold Preciado of Santos celebrates after scoring the team’s second goal during the 2nd round match between Puebla and Santos Laguna as part of the Torneo Apertura 2023 Liga MX at Cuauhtemoc Stadium on July 7, 2023 in Puebla, Mexico. Photo by Jam Media/Getty Images

It’s not how you start, but how you finish. Santos had a sluggish start, with goalkeeper Gibran Lajud and captain Juan Brunetta struggling early. Both players turned it around and came up huge when it counted however, propelling Santos to a 3-2 win over Puebla, their first of the season.

It wasn’t long before the game had it’s first goal when in the second minute of play Federico Mancuello tried a shot from distance that took a deflection off of Matheus Dória and caught Gibran Lajud going the wrong way.

Things settled down somewhat after the goal, with Puebla keeping more of the possession while Santos sat back and waited to counterattack. They were given chances, but often got into their own way and turned the ball over before anything threatening could develop. In the 15th minute, Lajud bobbled a shot from distance and had to come way off of his line to force a cross into the box rather than a shot. Thankfully for Santos they were able to scramble back and clear the danger before it manifested in another goal. Dória tested Iván Rodríguez with a shot from distance in the 22nd minute but the goalkeeper was well-positioned and saw the shot the entire way.

Santos’ fortunes changed however in the 25th minute when Harold Preciado got a ball in the box and hit a shot far post that beat Rodríguez to draw the sides level.

Santos looked like they had pulled ahead in the 33rd minute when Duván Vergara got the ball along the left side, ran along the top of the box, and blasted a right-footed rocket into the back of the net. After a VAR review however, it was ruled that the ball had been handled and the goal was nullified.

Immediately after at the other end, Mancuello hit a header that forced Lajud to make a great diving save to stop. Two minutes later Brayan Angulo headed a free kick on frame. Lajud got his hands on it but couldn’t stop it and it went in to give Puebla the lead.

Then as the match rolled into stoppage time, Preciado got into the box again and this time Rodríguez dove to try and get the ball off of his feet. Instead, he took Preciado down and a penalty was awarded. Juan Brunetta stepped up to the spot but Rodríguez guessed right and stopped the shot, knocking it out of bounds. Before the corner kick could come, referee Brian González whistled that the shot would be re-taken since Rodríguez had come off of his line before Brunetta hit his shot. Brunetta stepped back up and shot, and Rodríguez stopped it again however González whistled again that the shot should be re-taken after Rodríguez one again had come off of his line. This time Preciado stepped up and took it and despite Rodríguez coming well off of his line before Preciado took the shot, Precado buried it to pull Santos level. Immedtiately after, Brunetta had a chance during the run of play but sent it into the stands. Still Santos had pulled even heading into the locker room, much to the dismay of Puebla and their fans.

Santos started the second half getting the better of the possession. Aldo López got the first shot of the half after some nice ball movement found him alone at the top of the box, but his shot was well stopped by Rodríguez. In the 54th minute, Lajud came off of his line to make a close-range shot on a shot from Ángel Robles, conceding a corner kick in the pouring rain. Lajud made another solid stop on a long distance shot from Carlos Baltazar as the rain came down in torrents. Brunetta had another shot from inside the box in the 59th minute, but Rodríguez made a good save to keep him off of the board.

Lajud made another fantastic stop in the 66th minute to keep the ball out of the net on a Federico Mancuello shot. Replays showed that the ball may or may not have gone over the line, however no definitive angle was available to be shown. Santos kept pressuring, keeping Puebla bunkered in their own end for a decent amount of time. It finally paid off for Santos and Juan Brunetta in the 76th minute when a great pass from Emerson Rodríguez found Brunetta in space seven yards out and he easily tapped it in for his first goal of the season.

On the restart, Puebla charged down the field and caused a mad scramble in the Santos box to clear the ball out. In the 83rd minute a wide-open Preciado got onto the end of a nice ball in from the flank but scuffed his shot, sending it wide. In stoppage time Jair González had a great opportunity in front of goal but Rodríguez was able to recover and make the save. Deep into stoppage time Puebla applied loads of pressure to Santos, keeping them pinned in their own end for long stretches. Santos was up to the challenge however and held on for their first win of the 2023 Apertura.

Puebla travels to CDMX to face América on Saturday, July 15 while Santos returns home to host Atlas on Thursday, July 13.

Puebla F.C.: Iván Rodríguez; Luis García (Gustavo Ferrareis, 61’),Diego de Buen, Gastón Silva, Brayan Angulo; Pablo González, Federico Mancuello; Ángel Robles (Martín Barragán, 61’), Carlos Baltazar, Kevin Velasco (Daniel Álvarez, 72’); Guillermo Martínez

Santos Laguna: Gibran Lajud; Raúl López, Félix Torres, Matheus Dória. Omar Campos; Aldo López, Alan Cervantes (Pedro Aquino, 57’); Duván Vergara (Diego Medina, 57’), Juan Brunetta (Hugo Rodríguez, 87’), Emerson Rodríguez (Jair González, 80’); Harold Preciado (Javier Correa, 87’)

Scoring: Puebla F.C. - Federico Mancuello (2’), Brayan Angulo (37’); Santos Laguna - Harold Preciado (25’, 45+7’ - penalty), Juan Brunetta (76’)

Disciplinary: Puebla F.C. - Guillermo Martínez (Yellow - 6’), Ángel Robles (Yellow - 16’), Brayan Angulo (Yellow - 45’), Luis García (Yellow - 90+5’), Iván Rodríguez (45+9’), Arturo Alcalde (Yellow - 80’), Eduardo Arce (Yellow - HT); Santos Laguna - Pedro Aquino (Yellow - 64’), Omar Campos (Yellow - 81’)