Road warriors Leon, Santos show off offensive firepower

Ismael Sosa starred for Leon against Necaxa, recording a hat trick to lead his team to a 4-2 win. (Photo by VICTOR CRUZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Ismael Sosa starred for Leon against Necaxa, recording a hat trick to lead his team to a 4-2 win. (Photo by VICTOR CRUZ/AFP/Getty Images) /

An attractive slate of matinees provided plenty of thrills – and goals – for Liga MX fans on Saturday.

Leon marched into Necaxa and knocked off the first-place Rayos, allowing Santos to climb to the top of the table on the back of its 3-2 win at San Luis.

Ismael Sosa recorded a hat trick to lead the Esmeraldas to a 4-2 victory and Ignacio Ambriz moved to 4-0-0 against his former team since taking the Leon job just over a year ago. La Fiera is now 3-1-1 away from home during the Apertura 2019 after posting a 6-1-1 road record last season.

Leon, Santos win on road
Ismael Sosa opened the scoring against Necaxa in minute 19, then scored twice more as Leon defeated the Rayos 4-2. (Photo by VICTOR CRUZ/AFP/Getty Images) /

League scoring leader Julio Furch got visiting Santos on the board first and helped the Guerreros slip past a gallant San Luis side. Brian Lozano scored the game-winner with a brilliant solo effort in minute 63, moving Santos to 2-1-1 on the road.

Necaxa 2, Leon 4

Leon dominated the first half hour. In minute 19, J.J. Macías controlled the wide left of goal, escaped pressure and zipped a pass across the goal mouth, finding Sosa unmarked at the back post. Sosa thumped it home to give Leon a 1-0 lead.

Necaxa steadied itself and gradually began to control possession and dictating the pace of the game. But just before the hour mark, Sosa scored again, this time off a pass from captain Luis Montes.

The Rayos doubled down and started to chase the game. Suddenly, lightning struck and Necaxa scored twice within 2 minutes to knot the score with 21 minutes to go. The game bogged down in midfield a bit until Leon star Angel Mena worked his magic just before the clock hit 90.

Leon, Santos win on road
Angel Mena (left) and Ismael Sosa embrace after Mena scored in minute 90 against Necaxa. The goal gave the Esmeraldas a 3-2 lead. (Photo by VICTOR CRUZ/AFP/Getty Images) /

Mena split the defense with a pass to William Tesillo, forcing Necaxa keeper Hugo González to come off his line and close off Tesillo’s shooting angle. Tesillo never took aim, however. Instead, he spun and tapped a pass right into the path of Mena who had continued his run into the box and the little winger punched the ball into the vacated net as three Rayos defenders tried to close him down in vain.

Sosa converted his hat trick deep into injury time.

The loss was Necaxa’s first at Estadio Victoria since Feb. 23, a stretch during which the Rayos went 6-4-0 in front of their home fans. The setback also ended their 5-game win streak that had seen them climb into first place.

Necaxa falls into fourth place pending the outcome of the América-Querétaro match-up later Saturday. Leon is in second place and now boasts a 6-game unbeaten streak.

Atlético de San Luis 2, Santos 3

This game started out like you’d need a calculator to keep track, with three gorgeous goals in the game’s first 16 minutes.

In minute 7, Brian Lozano stripped San Luis right back Luis Reyes near the endline, turned and ripped a pass across the face of goal where Furch was lurking unmarked. The big Argentine tapped home for his eighth goal of the season.

Reyes quickly made up for his mistake, finding space on the left flank and lofting a perfectly weighted cross over defender Matheus Dória where Nico Ibáñez powered a header past the lunging Jonathan Orozco.

Just three minutes after that, Erick Castillo got free down the Santos right flank and zipped a low cross into the goalie box. Tuneros keeper Carlos Rodríguez deflected the cross but it fell right to Adrián Lozano who had time to corral the rebound and bang it home. With that, it was 2-1 Santos in minute 16.

Leon, Santos win on road
Brian Lozano (left) exults with teammate Adrián Lozano after the latter scored to give Santos a 2-1 lead. (Photo by Cesar Gomez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

The match then became a hard-tackling affair with opportunities for both sides (there were 20 shots in all by halftime). In minute 32, Orozco made an acrobatic save with his foot to deny San Luis the equalizer, but Tuneros players screamed about a foul. Ref Roberto García Orozco waved them off until the Video Assistant Referee buzzed down and asked him to take a closer look. A glance at the replay revealed a penalty indeed had been committed and Ian González equalized from the spot.

San Luis continued to force the issue into the second half (they enjoyed 59% possession in the match), but a moment of brilliance from Brian Lozano deflated the home fans crowded into Estadio Alfonso Lastras. Adrián Lozano fed Brian with a pass as the latter cut across the half moon. He then touched the ball onto his right foot as three San Luis defenders ran past him to cover his passing lanes and buzzed a curling shot around another defender and inside the near post. Rodríguez – who had 7 saves on the night – could not reach the ball and Santos had the lead.

The Guerreros held on by the skin of their teeth for the remaining half hour and now have 20 points from 9 games (they already had their bye week). That puts Santos in first place depending on the outcome of the América-Querétaro match.

Monterrey, Pachuca score big wins

Leon, Santos win on road
Nico Sánchez after scoring in minute 76 against Puebla, giving the Rayados a much-needed 3-2 victory. (Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images) /

The struggling Rayados may have done enough to save coach Diego Alonso’s job, scoring late to defeat Puebla 3-2 at home. Monterrey led 2-0 at the half, but the visiting Camoteros (in the penultimate spot in the table) fought back to tie in minute 64. Sixteen minutes from time, defender Nico Sánchez scored with a header (he opened the scoring in minute 19 with a penalty kick) and the Rayados led 3-2. That score held up though the home fans remain dissatisfied with their team’s performance.

In Pachuca, the inconsistent Tuzos earned just their third win of the season with a 4-1 rout of Tijuana. Pachuca burst out of the locker room and caught the Xolos flat-footed, building a 3-0 lead before the half.

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The Tuzos added a penalty kick in minute 53 before Tijuana pulled one back in minute 77.

Friday night results

Morelia moved to 4-1-0 since changing coaches after Matchday 5 as goalie Sebastián Sosa stood on his head to keep a clean sheet against visiting Guadalajara. Sosa made 6 saves – most of them of the spectacular variety – and the Monarcas took advantage of a soft first-half penalty to earn a 1-0 win.

In Guadalajara, Atlas was shut out for the second game in a row (they were the last Liga MX team to fail to score before losing 1-0 to the Chivas last weekend), shooting blanks in a 1-0 home loss to Toluca. William da Silva scored in minute 41 to give the Diablos only their second win of the season. The result will likely keep Ricardo La Volpe at the helm for Toluca another week.