Match recap: Santos Laguna 0, Toluca 5

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Historically, Santos hasn’t fared well against Toluca. Coming into the match they’d lost four straight against Los Diablos Rojos and hadn’t won against them since 2021. The trend unfortunately continued for Los Guerreros, who suffered their worst defeat ever at home, losing 5-0. The last time Santos lost by five goals was a 6-1 defeat against América at Estadio Azteca on March 31, 2000.

The game got off to an inauspicious start for Santos, when a mistake in the first minute lead to a break downfield by Toluca, but Jean Meneses’ centering pass went well wide of the center, going out of bounds wide on the far side of the goal. Santos had their first decent look at goal in the fourth minute when Harold Preciado was played in over the top, but good defending by Brian García meant that Preciado wasn’t able to get off a shot. The first shot came in the seventh minute when Raúl “Dedos” López tried threading a pass into the box but it was blocked, so he decided to shoot from distance. Thiago Volpi however saw the shot the entire way and made the stop. Then immediately after at the otehr end, a lofted cross-turned-shot had was the latest to wind up on Carlos Acevedo’s highlight reel, as the goalkeeper made an acrobatic diving save to slap the ball out of the goal.

In the 10th minute it was Thiago Volpi’s turn to slap a ball off of his line, knocking the rebound of a Santos shot out to a defender before an attacker could reach it. Volpi was very busy, making a diving stop on a Preciado header in the box in the 11th minute. The tables turned however in the 16th minute when Brian García played a nice give-and-go with Iván López and was left wide open, hitting a shot that beat Acevedo far post.

Santos didn’t give up however, and in the 21st minute Javier Correa teed up a shot that hit several bodies in the box and went out for a corner. Off of the free kick the ball eventually found Lucas González, who fired a shot that missed the near post by inches. The pace of the game slowed considerably, with both teams not able to create much, relying too heavily perhaps on long balls that were more hopeful than anything. Toluca had a decent chance in the 32nd minute when Marcel Ruiz was left open to hit a shot, but he didn’t hit it cleanly and it went well over the net. Then at the other end as if on cue, Thiago Volpi made a fantastic diving save on a header off of a corner kick, slapping it away. Toluca then hit Santos on a counter and Iván López ran it to the end line and cut it back under a diving Hugo Rodríguez, finding García again who buried it into the back of the net.

Toluca almost hit Santos on the counter again, but this time it was García firing a through ball up the center that just missed a sliding López for what would have been an easy tap-in. After just one minute of stoppage, referee Fernando Guerrero blew the whistle, sending the teams to the locker under a chorus of boos and whistles by the home fans.

Santos changed things up a bit in the second half, and they looked a bit more dangerous from the first few minutes. In the 48th minute of play, Salvador Mariscal floated a cross into the box that Harold Preciado headed just wide of the far post. But it wasn’t meant to be. Toluca once again hit Santos on a counter, and when Santos dropped everyone deep to defend, it left a perfect lane for Marcel Ruiz to get onto the end of a brilliant ball back from Maximiliano Araújo to make it 3-0 for the visitors.

It was an off night for Santos, and even when things went right, they didn’t. A great ball over the top found Harold Preciado behind the defense in the box. He made a deft touch on the ball and hit a volley all alone, but put it well into the stands. Then in the 74th minute Emerson Rodríguez floated a shot that hit off of the crossbar. It fell to Preciado, but he scuffed the shot and it was easily cleared out. In the 81st minute a cross into the box got a soft touch from Camilo Sanvezzo, who had just entered the game. Leo Fernández hit it in stride, catching Acevedo already committed going the wrong way. Toluca made it 5-0 in the 87th minute when 18 hit a great cross to Fernández, who was left wide-open on the far post and got the easy goal.

Santos hosts Puebla on Sunday, February 26 while Toluca returns home to host Club Atlético de San Luis also on Sunday, February 26.

Santos Laguna: Carlos Acevedo; Raúl López (Félix Torres, 46’), Matheus Dória, Hugo Rodríguez, Omar Campos; Diego Medina (Emerson Rodríguez, 71’), Alan Cervantes (Salvador Mariscal, 46’), Lucas González (Aldo López, 46’), Juan Brunetta; Javier Correa, Harold Preciado (Santiago Muñoz, 79’)

Toluca: Thiago Volpi; Brian García, Andrés Mosquera, Valber Huerta, Brayan Angulo; Jean Meneses, Claudio Baeza (Jesús Venegas, 46’), Marcel Ruiz (Fernando Navarro, 67’), Maximiliano Araújo (Jorge Torres Nilo, 79’); Iván López (Leo Fernández, 67’), Carlos González (Camilo Sanvezzo, 79’)

Scoring: Santos Laguna - None; Toluca - Brian García (16’, 35’), Marcel Ruiz (57’), Leo Fernández (82’, 87’)

Disciplinary: Santos Laguna - Félix Torres (Yellow - 77’); Toluca - None

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