Santos Laguna’s season-long home unbeaten streak came to an abrupt halt in the first game of the playoffs, where Toluca picked up an impressive 1-4 away win in the first leg of this quarterfinal series. The victory is also the first one for the Diablos Rojos in Torreón since 2004.
The visitors took the lead in the 14th minute, when Gabriel Hauche finished off a cross from Rubens Sambueza – back from suspension – to make it 0-1.
Toluca generated chances to add to their lead, first in the 23rd minute when Pablo Barrientos hit the post and then in the 32nd when Enrique Triverio – also returning from suspension – failed to capitalize on good service from Barrientos.
Santos was able to tie the game in the second half, with Jonathan Rodríguez getting around his defender and then Alfredo Talavera to finish off a counterattack, making it 1-1 in the 52nd minute.
But parity lasted just two minutes before Toluca reclaimed the lead. In the 54th minute, Triverio sent his diagonal shot past Jona Orozco to make it 1-2.
Then, in the 79th minute, Jorge Sánchez missed his attempted clearance, with the ball instead rebounding off his standing leg and falling for Fernando Uribe, who finished it off from close range to make it 1-3.
As Santos pressed forward as they looked to reduce the deficit, Toluca took advantage of the spaces they left in the back. In the 87th minute, Uribe drove into the box on a counter and slid the ball over to Carlos Esquivel, who made it 1-4.
With the 1-4 win, Toluca will advance to the semifinals with a win, a draw, or a one-, two-, or even three- goal loss in Saturday’s second leg. Santos needs to win by four to advance, unless they score five or more goals in which case they would advance with a three-goal margin of victory (that is, 5-2, 6-3, etc.)
Santos: Jonathan Orozco, Carlos Izquierdoz, Néstor Araujo, Jorge Villafaña, Jorge Sánchez, Diego de Buen, Osvaldo Martínez, Ulises Rivas, Jonathan Rodríguez, Julio César Furch, Emiliano Armenteros (Mauricio Cuero 68′).
Toluca: Alfredo Talavera, Efraín Velarde, Rodrigo Salinas, Osvaldo González (Aarón Galindo 78′), Paulo da Silva, Antonio Ríos, Rubens Sambueza, Erbin Trejo, Pablo Barrientos, Gabriel Hauche (Carlos Esquivel 75′), Enrique Triverio (Fernando Uribe 69′).