COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Two goals in each half from Santos Laguna were more than enough for the Mexican club to clinch an impressive 4-1 away victory over the Colorado Rapids in CONCACAF Champions League action at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Tuesday night.
Colorado midfielder Brian Mullan pulled a goal back late in the match for the home side, but it was too little, too late as four different players had already staked a lengthy lead for Santos.
The Rapids lined up aggressively, starting the game with three forwards in Macoumba Kandji, Omar Cummings and Sanna Nyassi, but instead, it was Santos who came out guns blazing.
Midfielder Daniel Ludueña opened the scoring for Santos in the 14th minute when he collected the ball at the top of the box and powered his right-footed attempt past Rapids’ goalkeeper Steward Ceus.
Thirteen minutes later, Mexican international Oribe Peralta tapped in an Iván Estrada cross as the Rapids players appealed for an offside call.
Pablo Mastroeni had perhaps the best chance in the first half for the home team when he found himself with a lot of space outside the penalty box but could only push the ball wide.
At the end of the first stanza, a Jeff Larentowicz shot rebounded to Nyassi, but goalkeeper Oswaldo Sánchez pulled off a good save to preserve Santos’ lead going into the break.
Rapids head coach Gary Smith gave defender Miguel Comminges his Colorado debut in the second half, bringing the Guadeloupe international on in favor of Danny Earls after the break in hopes of solidifying the left flank. However, the second half proved as dispiriting for the Rapids as the first 45 minutes.
The first real chance of the second 45 fell to Cummings, who got in behind the Santos defense in the 57th minute after a nice through ball from Kandji, but the Jamaican fired wide.
Colorado were punished for their mistakes just shortly past the hour mark as Carlos Quintero, who had caused problems for the Rapids defense all night, punctuated a breakaway to score Santos’ third goal in the 64th minute.
Just seven minutes later, Cristian Suárez sealed the match for the Mexican club, collecting the ball on the right side of the box and firing inside the far post for the 4-0 lead.
Colorado, though, didn’t go down without putting up a fight and, in the 77th minute, second-half sub Mullan tapped in a Sanna Nyassi cross at the far post for a consolation goal.
Quintero nearly nullified Mullan’s tally in the 80th minute, but Ceus did well to block a shot from the speedy forward.
Finally, Mullan, struck the cross bar in the 85th minute before the final whistle.
The victory catapulted Santos to first place thanks to their six points from their three CCL games. The Rapids, meanwhile tumbled to third place with four points.
The Rapids next play a league match away at Toronto this Saturday. Their next CCL game is Sept. 21 at home to Honduran club Real España, who remain in last place of the group after falling 2-0 to second-place Metapán also on Tuesday.