Two goals in two minutes by Miguel Sabah made the difference Friday night, as Monarcas Morelia beat league leaders Santos Laguna 3-1. The hosts got off to a fast start, as they went for goal from the first whistle and tried to build a commanding lead. In fact, Sabah nearly got the scoring started in the 2nd minute when he tapped a slow rolling ball towards goal, only for Rafael Figueroa to clear it out in time for Santos. From there, the first twenty minutes of the match were open, but Morelia had the upper hand, and made use of their advantage.
First, in the 23rd minute, Edgar Lugo won the ball in the corner in Santos' end on a hustle play, then easily beat the defender, and passed the ball into the box. Sabah was making a streaking run into the area, and hit a well-placed angled shot to give Morelia a 1-0 lead. Although Sabah had a great shot, Lugo deserves full credit for setting up the goal.
Just two minutes later, Christian Valdez had the ball on the right side of midfield and sent a long lob towards the box after seeing Sabah make another run. Sabah took the ball down well, beat two Santos defenders, and scored easily. From there, it seemed likely Sabah would get a quick hat trick, but two excellent saves by Santos goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez kept the scoreline respectable. The most impressive save came in the 33rd minute when he made a reflex save on a point blank shot by Sabah, followed by a sliding tackle in the box to dispossess Sabah of the ball in the 44th minute. While Sanchez let in three goals, he certainly deserves credit for making up for his defenders' poor performance on the night.
Santos cut Morelia's lead in the 29th minute when Christian Suarez crossed the ball in from the left wing. Live, it looked like Darwin Quintero got on the end of the ball and scored, while replays indicate Morelia's Adrian Aldrete may have beaten Quintero to the ball and scored an own goal. Regardless of who scored it, the goal gave Santos hope heading into the final hour of the match.
While the first half was open and exciting, the teams tightened up defensively in the second half and fouls and yellow cards disrupted the game's rhythm. Sabah had another chance early in the second half, but as he tried to pass the ball to a teammate, his touch was off and he lost the ball. But Edgar Lugo got the final goal in second half injury time as he was on the end of an excellent pass into the box, and he scored emphatically. Meanwhile, Santos hustled in the second half, but they couldn't really get their attack going.
The loss for Santos means Tigres or Atlante could catch them atop the standings this weekend with wins, while Morelia leaps all the way from ninth overall to second, at least for a day. Santos will be disappointed with a performance that was largely flat on both ends of the field, but Morelia seems destined for the liguilla at this point in the season, and probably deserve to be sitting higher than ninth. As long as Sabah stays hot, they look like a very dangerous team, even for the top teams in the league.