TORREON, Mexico – Club Santos Laguna defeated CF Monterrey 2-1 at the TSM Corona stadium Sunday to win the Clausura 2012 championship. Santos win their fourth league title since the summer 1996 tournament. The Laguneros had become a perennial “almost” team, having reached the finals on four occasions since the Bicentenario 2010 tournament but falling short.
Argentine Daniel Ludueña and Oribe Peralta put Santos on the board, while Aldo DeNigris tore the net for Monterrey. The aggregate score ended 3-2 in Santos’ favor.
“We lost in the first minutes. Santos is a good champion and we must recognize that,” Monterrey Coach Victor Manuel Vucetich said during the post-game conference. “They played the counterstrike and got us.”
Santos Coach Benjamin Galindo wins his first Mexican league title, while Vucetich loses his first final in 13 attempts.
Santos took control of the pitch from the beginning. The home side hit the pitch with a sea of green cheering in la comarca.
It didn’t take long for Santos to make their fans happy. Ludueña put the Laguneros on the board in the sixth minute of play. He received a pass from Colombian Darwin Quintero between two Monterrey defenders. The midfielder controlled the ball, moved to the outside of the goal net and shot right footed. Goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco dove left, but the ball had too much force and embedded itself in the net to give Santos the lead.
Monterrey would not give in as Chilean international Humberto “chupete” Suazo tried to penetrate the Santos defense. Despite his intentions, Rayados could not shake goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez’ net. The first half ended with Santos leading the game.
Monterrey began the second half attacking Santos. Suazo continued his great performance, but continued to have trouble with the Santos defenders.
Galindo pulled Cristian Suarez in the 56th bringing in Candido Ramirez to replace the striker. The Ecuadorian had not had a great game. Galindo had already substituted Osmar Mares with Cesar Ibañez at the half due to injury.
Quintero had a good opportunity for Santos in the 61st minute when he beat Walter Ayovi to the ball. From just over midfield Quintero noticed Orozco was off his line. He shot the ball from that point sending Orozco running back. Unfortunately for Santos, the ball sailed over the crossbar by inches.
Oribe Peralta increased the lead in the 65th in his typical “breath taking” fashion. The striker received the ball from Ludueña with two defenders hot on his trail. Peralta lost his balance and slid to hit the ball with his left. The ball travelled low out of Orozco’s reach to make the game 2-0.
In the 67th the referee annulled the third Santos goal. Once again Peralta, but a charge on a player in the area was called foul by the referee.
DeNigris gave Monterrey hopes with a goal in the 79th minute of play. He drove the ball across the half moon. The striker beat out three Santos defenders and shot with his left across the box forcing Sanchez to dive to no avail. The game stood at 2-1 in favor of the Laguneros.
After the goal, Monterrey took control of the pitch, once again moving in to attack. Suazo continued to look for the goal that would give his team a chance to continue their search for the title.
Quintero had another one-on-one with Orozco in the 85th minute. The Colombian hit the ball as Orozco knelt to perform the “crucifix” blocking the ball and sending it to a throw in.
The game came to a stop when two players collided in the area, running the clock to the end of regulation. Panamanian Felipe Baloy reentered the game with a bandage on his head with two minutes left in compensation.
Ludueña almost scored the most beautiful goal of Santos’ existence. Seeing Orozco outside the penalty area Ludueña shot from midfield. Orozco could only see the ball sail over his head. To his relief the ball flew over the crossbar. A few minutes later the referee blew the final whistle to give Santos their fourth league title.
“They scored the ones they took shots in,” Orozco said after the game. “They are a good champion. They ended the league as number one, as champions. We need to recognize that they played well. We did the best we could, we left it all on the field, we had several opportunities to tie the game, but that’s football.”
Goalkeeper Sanchez received the trophy from Mexican Football Federation president Decio de Maria. The former Mexican national team goalkeeper passed the trophy to his players who proceeded to take the victory lap around the stadium.
Santos becomes the third to team to win the league title after ending No. 1 in the league table since the “short” tournament format was implemented in 1996. Toluca and CF Pachuca are the other two teams to hold that honor.