The visitors found the equalizer in minute 83, but Morelia showed they are for real, holding their own against the league leaders.
Santos twice erased Morelia leads but a missed penalty kick by Julio Furch might have cost them a key road victory as the Apertura 2019 season winds down. The 2-2 result left the door open for Necaxa to sneak past Santos at the top of the table.
After taking the lead just before halftime, host Morelia seemed content to sit back on defense in the second half. This allowed Santos to create more offense and kept the Monarcas from taking advantage of the space created by the visitors’ high defensive line.
The first half was played in a virtual deluge with Santos displaying tactical and formational discipline. The visitors enjoyed the majority of possession and had the hosts on their heels.
Against the run of play, Morelia opened the scoring in minute 16 with a picture-perfect counterattack. Off a Santos corner kick, the Monarcas cleared a re-centering attempt and the ball was sent out on the right side to Rodrigo Millar who raced past midfield with control. Millar survived a tackle (and ref Eduardo Galván allowed play to go on) before leading Edison Flores wider right as three Santos players chased the ball. The Peru international chipped a soft centering pass to Sebastian Ferreira all alone near the penalty spot. Ferreira stooped to get his head and the ball and flicked it past Jonathan Orozco inside the left post. It was Ferreira’s fourth goal in his past two games.
Diego Valdés tied it for Santos just 2 minutes later. A long ball was sent forward and Valdés, realizing he was offside, made no play for it, circling back around instead. Julio Furch swooped in and collected the ball but his attempt was deflected. Valdés, who had never stopped running, raced in and slotted home to tie the score. The Chilean immediately held his hands up apologetically, showing respect for his former fans (Valdés played with Morelia for two-and-a-half years).
Flores restored Morelia’s lead with a brilliant shot from 22 meters in minute 43, blasting a left-footer into the short side upper-90 where Orozco had no chance. Millar got the assist, but the Monarcas showed tremendous poise in maintaining possession for nearly a minute inside the Santos half, eluding pressure and probing for spaces. Flores finally took the ball near the top of the box, touched it past his marker, then fired a laser.
More from Viva Liga MX
- Guillermo Ochoa is out 4-6 weeks
- The Clásico Regiomontano is Heating Up
- Pumas: In Search of Regaining a Top Spot
- Why the United States Is Set to Overtake Mexico on the World Stage
- Erick Gutierrez is out once again
Furch had been denied a go-ahead goal in minute 41, called for a foul just before knocking the ball into the net with a spectacular header. Replays were inconclusive though that didn’t prevent the TV Azteca announcers from criticizing the ref.
Missed opportunity for Santos
Furch’s frustration was doubled in minute 58 when Morelia keeper Sebastián Sosa blocked his penalty kick which had been awarded after a video review. The Monarcas were lucky with that review since the foul on defender Emanuel Loeschbor could have resulted in his second yellow card, but ref Galván only assessed the penalty kick.
In minute 66, central defender Sebastián Vegas made a great sliding tackle to knock away a nifty through ball in the box that would have put Santos winger Erick Castillo in a 1-on-1 with Sosa.
Morelia had reason to feel aggrieved when Santos tied the game off a corner kick in minute 83. The corner kick was awarded after a Santos thrust forward that seemed to be facilitated by an offside. Sosa, the Monarcas goalie screamed his disapproval at the line judge, but his complaint was to no avail and Hugo Rodríguez nodded home at the back post on the ensuing corner kick. Sosa continued voicing his displeasure before the restart of play, earning a yellow card.