Underdog Santos Laguna KO’s defending champs in penalty shootout

Santos Laguna players react after José Lozano converted the winning penalty kick to send the Guerreros into the Liga MX quarterfinals. (Photo by Jaime Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images)
Santos Laguna players react after José Lozano converted the winning penalty kick to send the Guerreros into the Liga MX quarterfinals. (Photo by Jaime Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /
Santos stuns Pachuca
Santos Laguna refused to give up, fighting back from 1-goal deficits on four occasions to take holders Pachuca to penalty kicks. The 12th-seeded Guerreros stunned No. 5 Pachuca, winning the shootout 4-2. (Photo by Jaime Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

The king is dead! Long live the king! And Santos Laguna is guilty of regicide.

Much-maligned back-up goalie Gibran Lajud stopped two penalty kicks  to lead 12th-seeded Santos Laguna to a shootout victory over heavily favored Pachuca.

The two teams traded haymakers for 90 minutes, battling to a 4-4 tie – with both teams scoring in stoppage time – to send the game to penalties.

Lajud stood tall during the shootout, turning aside Pachuca’s first and fourth spot kicks while the first four Guerreros converted theirs to hand the defending champs a stunning defeat.

Santos erased four 1-goal deficits

With star goalie Carlos Acevedo still nursing a shoulder injury, Lajud got the call for a second week in a row, perhaps still stung by the criticism that came his way after last week’s 3-2 loss at Cruz Azul.

Although he was torched for 4 goals Saturday night, the 29-year-old netminder made several big saves to keep his team in the game. And fortunately, his mates responded each and every time.

The Tuzos took the lead – from the penalty spot, ironically – in minute 7 but shaky defense (a theme that played out all game) opened the door for the visiting Guerreros. Poor awareness by Pachuca defender Gustavo Cabral and lax marking by fullback Kevin Álvarez allowed Harold Preciado to muscle inside for a close-range header and it was 1-1 at the 11-minute mark.

No sooner had Santos tied it up than Roberto de la Rosa scored a goal worthy of Coronation Day to put Pachuca back on top. A bad outlet pass by Lajud led directly to a Romario Ibarra foray down the left channel and the Ecuadorian’s seeing-eye pass into the box was elegantly tapped home by de la Rosa.

Twelve minutes later, we were knotted up at 2-2 when Cabral fell asleep on a corner kick and Felix Torres made no mistake, powering home a header from point-blank range.

Pachuca takes one step forward, one step backward

The fifth-seeded Tuzos went into halftime ahead when Romario Ibarra  was Johnny-on-the-spot to poke home a goal-mouth pass from Avilés Hurtado off a corner kick in minute 43. Hurtado had gone to ground while chasing a rebound at the near post and, with a second effort, swatted the ball to Ibarra.

Santos answered the call just 7 minutes after the restart when former Tuzo Raúl López blasted a shot into the upper left corner that caught Pachuca goalie Oscar Ustari by surprise.

The game stayed knotted at 3-3 for the next 40 minutes. That’s when Erick Sánchez stepped to the fore.

The diminutive midfielder trailed a flowing move forward, raced through a crowd into the box to track down a rebound and slotted home in minute 90+2, seemingly taking the champs into the next round. But Santos had other ideas … and the Pachuca defense left the door open.

Just 3 minutes later, Tuzos defenders failed to stick with their markers on a free kick and Matheus Doria had a free run at the rebound, knocking home the equalizer that send the game to penalty kicks.

Next. Atlas makes early goal stand up, eliminate Cruz Azul. dark

Santos Laguna moves on to the quarterfinals where they’ll face No. 1 seed Monterrey. The Guerreros will host the first leg midweek and the return match will be played at “El Gigante de Acero” next weekend.