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Pachuca reaches La Liga MX finals

Enner Valencia scores past backup keeper Julio Gonzalez.
Enner Valencia scores past backup keeper Julio Gonzalez.

The temperament on the pitch was high with both teams losing a player and one their coach. Club Santos Laguna was able to revert and come from behind despite being a man-down most of the game to win 4-2 at the TSM Corona Stadium in Torreon, Mexico in the return leg of the semifinals. Despite the win, it was not enough for Santos to advance to the Clausura 2014 final of La Liga MX.

The home side came out with full force as they tried to remount the adverse 2-0 score from earlier in the week at the Hidalgo Stadium. It was a constant barrage of shots on Oscar “Conejo” Perez’ net. Santos kept pressure on the Tuzos with corner kick after corner kick.

The efforts paid off for Santos in the 10th minute when Rafael Figueroa received a center from the corner and headed the ball past Perez who had left his line in an attempt to capture the ball. Figueroa’s shot entered the net unopposed to give Santos the 1-0 lead.

Santos continued to control the game, but on a counterstrike by Pachuca the game’s tempo changed. In an offside call Santos keeper Oswaldo Sanchez collided with Ecuadorian Enner Valencia. Referee Marco Antonio Rodriguez did not hesitate and went straight to his back pocket to pull the red card leaving Santos with one less player on the pitch.

Julio Gonzalez was called to take the gloves for Sanchez. The 23 year-old player made a critical error on a back-pass two minutes later. He tried to control the ball with Valencia charging forward. Valencia was able to take the ball from Gonzalez and put the ball in the net for the 1-1. Things were not going well for Santos and in the 30th minute coach Pedro Caixinha was sent off.

In first half compensation time, Pachuca was able to take the lead. Valencia centered to Dieter Villalpando who headed the ball to the far post to give the visitors the lead 2-1.

The second half was also full of action. Santos went back on the offensive trying to break the net and close the gap. Javier “Chuletita” Orozco came on at the half as the “Mexican hoops” went all out to get the game.

The number of players on the pitch fell once more in the 63rd minute when Ecuadorian Walter Ayovi chased a ball and raised his leg high enough to kick Oribe Peralta in the chest. Again, the referee went for the red card. The fans came back to life as their team began to show more signs of life.

Santos closed the gap in the 66th minute when defender Rodolfo Pizarro took Peralta down inside the box. Juan Pablo Rodriguez converted from the penalty spot to close the gap 2-2.

The goal increased the team’s morale. The fans continued to support with full force as the chants and drums came to life. The aggregate score was 4-2 in Pachuca’s favor.

Santos continued to pressure earning set-pieces and corner kicks to challenge the Tuzos’ defense. In the 77th minute Carlos Darwin Quintero centered from the near corner. “Chuletita” Orozco ran in beating his marker, headed and found the area between Perez and the near post to give Santos the 3-2 lead. The home side was still in need of two goals to win since the “away goals rule” was in effect.

Figueroa once again put the ball in the net in the 93rd minute when he cleared from his marker and headed a center from Quintero to give that final grab at reaching the final, but it was not enough for Santos. Despite the 4-2 victory, Pachuca advanced on the away goals rule with a final aggregate score of 4-4.

Pachuca awaits the winner of the Leon FC- Toluca FC match scheduled for Sunday, May 11, 2014 at the Nemesio Diez Stadium in Toluca. The panzas verdes have a 1-0 advantage.

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