Having a two- to three-week break at the start of the season can do one of two things to a team: it can either bring out the rust or recharge the batteries. There was no rust on either Cruz Azul or Santos, as the teams battled to a thrilling 2-2 draw that saw both teams play at a torrid pace for most of the match.
The game got off to a hot start when Santos made a run down the pitch in the first minute with Harold Preciado linking up with Duván Vergara, but Vergara fell over his own feet and the ball went out for a goal kick. Off of that goal kick, Andrés Gudiño played it short on the restart, and Santos was expecting it. Juan Brunetta picked off an errant pass from Kevin Castaño, drifted wide right, and sent it back in to Preciado, who put Santos up in just the second minute of play.
Cruz Azul was undeterred however, and in the sixth minute had a good chance on a Diber Cambindo header that went just wide of the net. The hosts kept the pressure on, retaining possession for long stretches and it paid off in the ninth minute when a breakdown allowed X to get free along the right and whip a cross into Cambindo, who flicked the ball into the back of the net from a seemingly impossible angle.
Santos then came right back, and in the 14th minute Pedro Aquino sent a great ball in from the left to Harold Preciado. Preciado put a nice shot on frame, but Gudiño was there to make the stop. Emerson Rodríguez got to the rebound, but unfortunately for him his momentum took him out of bounds with the ball. The play was up and down the pitch with the speed and ferocity of a basketball game. In the 16th minute, Cabinda almost had a second, but Félix Torres and Gibrán Lajud did just enough to get into his way that the shot hit off of the post and was cleared out. In the 19th it was Brunetta causing another turnover near the box that created danger, but his shot didn’t curl as much as he thought it would and it went well wide. A minute later Ignacio “Nacho” Rivero sent a shot in on goal that Lajud read well, making the stop and then smothering the rebound.
Santos put together a flurry of chances in the 33rd minute, resulting in Preciado putting one on frame that only a great diving stop by Gudiño kept out of the net. Two minutes later Carlos Rotondi had a great chance with a header at speed, but a great defensive play forced him to push it wide of the intended target. In the 39th a nice pass from Emerson Rodríguez found Brunetta in the box, but he rushed his shot and sent it well into the seats. In the 43rd minute disaster struck for Santos when Matheus Dória kicked Uriel Antuna in the shin in the box. Referee Marco Ortíz awarded the penalty, and Antuna converted to give the hosts the lead heading into the half.
⚽ ¡Goooooool de Cruz Azul! ⚽— TUDN MEX (@TUDNMEX) August 20, 2023
⚽ ¡Goooooool de Cruz Azul! ⚽
Antuna dejó como estatua a Lajud y anota de penal
EN VIVO: Canal 5 y TUDNhttps://t.co/GgjnqT1cN0#LoNuestroEsElFutbol | #AzulDePorVida | #PrimeroGuerrero pic.twitter.com/9WB3cc2Z7Y
The second half started with the same intensity as the first, with Santos making a run down the field and getting a chance at goal in the 48th, but Juan Brunetta’s shot was well-read by Andrés Gudiño. Cruz Azul had a great three-on-two rush in the 52nd, but Uriel Antuna elected to pass into coverage instead of shoot and the ball was predictably cleared out. In the 56th minute at the other end, Diber Cambindo had a great look at goal but sent it wide. Had it gone in it would most certainly have been ruled offside however. Cambindo had another look in the 59th minute that Lajud saved and was also whistled dead on an offside violation. Two minutes later Dória got to a loose ball in the box and put it on frame, forcing Gudiño to make a great save. On the resulting corner kick, Juan Escobar put Harold Preciado in a Full Nelson and Santos was awarded a penalty. Preciado stepped up and nailed the shot from the spot to draw the sides level.
⚽ ¡Goooooool de Santos! ⚽— TUDN MEX (@TUDNMEX) August 21, 2023
⚽ ¡Goooooool de Santos! ⚽
Preciado no perdona de penal y empata el partido
EN VIVO: Canal 5 y TUDNhttps://t.co/GgjnqT1cN0#LoNuestroEsElFutbol | #AzulDePorVida | #PrimeroGuerrero pic.twitter.com/XeBCEgFR9J
The pace of play finally settled down to being slightly less breakneck, with teams finally feeling some heavier legs. In the 76th minute Antuna had a good look at goal but sent his shot just over the crossbar. The physicality of the match picked up considerably, with several players hitting the ground from both teams as the result of robust tackles. In the 82nd minute it looked like Cruz Azul had scored, but a review showed a very clear hand ball in the box by Nacho Rivero and the goal was waved off.
Santos survived another scare in the 85th when Aldo López was there to head a shot from Rivero off of the line and then came out and kicked out another shot that looked destined to go on frame. Cruz Azul had several more chances that were nullified by players being played in an offside position. Santos had a good chance late on a header from Preciado but Gudiño read it well and made the save look easy. Then Cruz Azul had a break in the fourth minute of stoppage but Lajud came up huge, making a fantastic save on the shot from Carlos Rotondi. A last gasp corner kick from Cruz Azul went nowhere, and the match ended in a 2-2 draw.
Cruz Azul heads to Pachuca to face Tuzos on Wednesday with another away match at Monterrey on Sunday, August 27., August 23 while Santos heads back home to host Chivas on Saturday, August 26.
Cruz Azul: Andrés Gudiño; Carlos Salcefo, Juan Escobar, Willer Ditta; Kevin Castaño, Erik Lira, Ignacio Rivero, Carlos Rodríguez (Rodrigo Huescas, 87’), Carlos Rotondi; Diber Cambindo (Christian Tabó, 73’), Uriel Antuna (Moises Vieira, 87’)
EL ONCE— CRUZ AZUL (@CruzAzul) August 20, 2023
Este es el cuadro de La Máquina para enfrentar a Santos.
Si apuestas $1,000 en @calientesports a la victoria de La Máquina, ¡cobrarías hasta $2,300!
https://t.co/l16wtRrear#MételeEnCaliente #MásAcciónMásDiversión pic.twitter.com/3smmh7Mhoj
Santos Laguna: Gibrán Lajud; Omar Campos, Ismael Govea (Raúl López, 64’), Matheus Doria, Félix Torres; Juan Brunetta (Santiago Muñoz, 87’), Emerson Rodríguez (Diego Medina, 64’) , Pedro Aquino (Diego Medina, 80’), Alan Cervantes, Duván Vergara (Jair González, 80’); Harold Preciado
Scoring: Cruz Azul - DIber Cambindo (10’), Uriel Antuna (44’ - penalty); Santos Laguna - Harold Preciado (1’, 63’)
Disciplinary: Cruz Azul - Carlos Rodríguez (Yellow - 26’), Andrés Gudiño (Yellow - 40’); Santos Laguna - Ismael Govea (Yellow - 24’), Omar Campos (Yellow - 87’)