Santos Laguna claims Clausura crown
TORREON, Mexico (AP)
Santos won the two-legged finals series 3-2 on aggregate after a 1-1 draw last week at Monterrey. The playoff decided the second half of Mexico's split season, called the Clausura. The first half title - the Apertura - was won by Tigres.
Luduena opened the scoring in the 6th minute and Oribe Peralta extended the lead in the 65th. Aldo de Nigris pulling one back for Monterrey in the 79th.
The title is Santos Laguna's fourth since the club was founded in 1983 and extracted some revenge after losing to Monterrey 4-3 on aggregate in last month's CONCACAF Champions League final.
''I thank the people and the club directors that have always been loyal to us,'' Luduena said. ''I think it has created an excellent group.''
The victory was also a relief for the club, coming off the back of losses in three of the last four finals in Mexico's top division.
''I'm very happy, we worked hard for this through ups and downs,'' Luduena said. ''The team has pride, it is strong and recovers quickly.''
Santos Laguna took the early lead when Luduena slid the ball under goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco from a tight angle after receiving the ball on the edge of the penalty box and driving past defender Hiram Mier.
Torreon-born Peralta got the vital second goal for Santos at a time when Monterrey was throwing players forward searching for the equalizer.
Peralta finished into the bottom corner with a left-footed shot from just inside the area, with Monterrey's defenders out of position.
Two minutes later, Peralta appeared to have put the game beyond doubt with another goal, but it was disallowed for a foul in the buildup.
''This is the reward for all the people that believed in us,'' Peralta said. ''We dedicate this title to them.''
When an early second half equalizer didn't come, Monterrey brought on Neri Cardozo and Cesar Delgado in the 52nd minute and increased the pressure on Santos Laguna.
De Nigris' shot from the left hand edge of the penalty area into the far corner of the net again put the result in doubt and the last ten minutes of the game were played from end-to-end.
The defeat was Monterrey coach Victor Manuel Vucetich's first ever finals loss as a manager. His teams had previously won 12 straight finals, including five Mexican first division titles and two CONCACAF Champions League victories.