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Match recap: Tigres UANL 3, Santos Laguna 2

A brace from an unlikely source downs Santos, giving Tigres three huge points in the Liguilla race.

Juan Vigon of Tigres celebrates after scoring the team’s second goal during the 5th round match between Tigres UANL and Santos Laguna as part of Torneo Apertura 2023 Liga MX at Universitario Stadium on August 30, 2023 in Monterrey, Mexico. Photo by Alfredo Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images

Part of the beauty of soccer is its unpredictability. Sure, there are some things that are very predictable, but it’s the moments of magic, the stories of perseverence, and the emergence of heroes at the right time that captures the imagination. Tigres win over Santos had these elements; magical goals in big moments for the hosts after they went down a goal twice, and a game-winning goal from a back up midfielder.

Tigres had the better of things early on. Sebastián Córdova hit a dipping shot in the eighth minute of play that forced Gibrán Lajud to make a diving save. But it was Santos that got on the board first in the 12th minute when Tigres’ defense got caught napping and Duván Vergara found Emerson Rodríguez in the box. Rodríguez took the pass, turned, and fired a shot past Nahuel “Paton” Guzmán for the early lead.

Tigres came right back however, and in the 16th minute Sebastián Córdova drew a foul just outside of the box. André-Pierre Gignac hit a rocket of a free kick that Lajud saved, but Ozziel Herrera finished his run into the box and knocked in the equalizer.

In the 19th minute, a nice cross from the right side of the pitch found Fernando Gorriarán, but the former Santos midfielder’s header was well-saved by Lajud. Six minutes later Rodríguez made a nice run through the Tigres defense into the box, but opted to pass instead of shooting, and unfortunately for Santos the trailing run never came. Tigres had the better of possession for large portions of the first half, however while they were able to keep Santos pinned in their own end and win a couple of set piece opportunities, they weren’t able to make anything of any of it. In stoppage time heading into the half, Lajud came off of his line to head a ball away before it got into the box with Gignac closing in. but his header went the wrong way. Gignac was able to get to it and get off a shot, but Lajud had recovered to get a piece of it, allowing Félix Torres to clear it off of the line. Tigres unfortunately had to use their first sub just before the half, taking Guido Pizarro off after he appeared to injure himself on a play.

Santos started the second half off with a bang, hitting Tigres on a counterattack immediately, with Duván Vergara lofting a ball into the box for Juan Brunetta, who turned and fired past Paton Guzmán to give Santos the lead once again.

Tigres however was undeterred, coming down the field to have Sebastián Córdova unleash a shot that glanced off of Matheus Dória’s head and hit the crossbar. Unfortunately in the 52nd minute Ozziel Herrera had to be subbed out after pulling up on a run and hobbling around. Herrera was later seen on the bench with his right leg on ice.

In the 61st minute Dória almost knocked in a corner kick, but his header hit the crossbar and went out. There was a scary moment on the play when Gorriarán went down after clashing heads with Omar Campos, drawing blood from a cut on his head. The dynamic midfielder wasn’t out of action for long however, and returned to the pitch as soon as the bleeding stopped. In the 70th minute, Brunetta teed one up from long distance that just skimmed the top of the bar. Santos was having the better of possession and chances, but Tigres was keeping them honest, not letting them get much more than Brunetta’s attempt.

Tigres tried to take advantage of what they could. Gignac had a shot in the 73rd that was blocked out, and in the 74th it looked like Juan Pablo Vigon had scored after knocking in the rebound off of a Luis Quiñones shot, but the play was ruled offside. After a lengthy VAR review however, the call on the field was reversed and Tigres was awarded their equalizer.

Santos wasn’t quite done however, and in the 82nd minute Vergara hit a nice cross in to Javier Correa, but his header was read perfectly by Paton Guzmán and saved. Then at the other end it was Gignac’s time to get a header on a nice cross into the box, but his attempt went wide of the net. In the final minute of regulation, Nico Ibáñez had a great chance on a falling shot in the box, but Lajud was able to snatch it out of mid-air before it crossed the line. Then as the clock passed 90 minutes, Vigon came up massive, knocking in a great cross from Gignac.

Santos kept trying to find the equalizer in stoppage, and Juan Brunetta came close in the third minute, whistling a ball just wide of the target. Duván Vergara had a look just before the final whistle, but Guzmán saved it to secure the three points for the home side.

Tigres hosts Querétaro on Saturday, September 2 while Santos returns home to host Pumas also on Saturday, September 2.

Tigres UANL: Nahuel Guzmán; Rafael Carioca, Jesús Angulo (Fernando Ordóñez, 70’), Samir De Souza; Fernando Gorriarán (Juan Pablo Vigon, 71’), Javier Aquina, Sebastián Córdova (Nicolás Ibáñez, 71’), Guido Pizarro (Diego Reyes, 45+2’); Luis Quiñones, André-Pierre Gignac, Ozziel Herrera (Raymundo Fulgencio, 52’)

Santos Laguna: Gibrán Lajud; Omar Campos, Matheus Dória, Félix Torres (Beto Ocejo, 90+4’), Ismael Govea; Emerson Rodríguez (Diego Medina, 87’), Pedro Aquino (Aldo López, 81’), Alan Cervantes (Santiago Muñoz, 90+4’); Juan Brunetta, Harold Preciado (Javier Correa, 81’), Duván Vergara

Scoring: Tigres UANL - Ozziel Herrera (16’), Juan Pablo Vigon (76’, 90’); Santos Laguna - Emerson Rodríguez (12’), Juan Brunetta (47’)

Disciplinary: Tigres UANL - Jesús Angulo (Yellow - 65’); Santos Laguna - Félix Torres (Yellow - 55’), Pedro Aquino (Yellow - 79’)