Cruz Azul took a massive step towards ending its infamous 24-year title drought by defeating Santos Laguna 1-0 in the first leg of the 2021 Clausura Final on Thursday night in Torreón.
This was a trap game for Cruz Azul. La Máquina’s current build is either that of a team of destiny or as the standard-bearers of the Comizzo curse, and a raucous crowd of 21,000 inside Estadio Corona summoned the ghosts of the 2018 Apertura Final and last December’s historic semifinal collapse. However, the players who lived those tragedies — the defensive shell of Jesús Corona, Adrián Aldrete, Pablo Aguilar, Cata Domínguez and Rafael Baca — beat back the monsters of La Laguna.
This is a young Santos Laguna squad; at an average of 25.1 years of age, it’s the spriteliest in Liga MX. There aren’t many holdovers from the Clausura 2018 winners: Brian Lozano is injured and Jesús Isijara was on the bench, but former No. 2 Carlos Acevedo is now one of the league’s best keepers.
Acevedo denied Cabecita Rodríguez — who won the title with Santos before transferring to Cruz Azul for $12.5 million in 2019 — on a heavenly overhead kick in the 35th minute.
If this went in... pic.twitter.com/0MDnF1YRvO— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) May 28, 2021
Acevedo recorded a couple more saves as Cruz Azul began a period of sustained pressure in Santos’ third, and that pressure eventually yielded the opening goal in the 71st minute.
Luis Romo created the danger by maneuvering through three defenders on the edge of the area before drawing another one. Santos couldn’t clear their lines, and a wild sequence brought the ball back to the Mexico international. Romo fired quickly on the turn to finally beat Acevedo.
GOL de Romo.
Insistió, insistió y hasta que tuvo el claro DISPARÓ.
Cruz Azul está arriba 1-0.
FINAL #FOXLigaMX @ClubSantos vs @CruzAzul
Con @SirJohnLaguna @marianot19 @RaoulPolloOrtiz @daniella_lg pic.twitter.com/ITPCOLKYUD— FOX Deportes (@FOXDeportes) May 28, 2021
The second leg at Estadio Azteca is on Sunday, May 30, at 9:15 p.m. ET.