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MEXICO: Draw gives Santos advantage

5/18/2012

Oribe Peralta, hero of Santos Laguna's stunning semifinal comeback, came up big again Thursday in the opener of the Mexican Primera Division's title series.

Peralta scored a superb goal in the 70th minute to give the Guerreros, seeking to become the first No. 1 seed in five years to win Mexico's most prestigious soccer competition, an advantage that will serve them well in Sunday's second leg of the Clausura (or second-half) championship.

Monterrey rallied for a 1-1 draw in stoppage, with Humberto Suazo winning and then converting a penalty kick, but the result is a plus for Santos, which is seeking its first title since the 2008 Clausura and fourth in history.

Santos, which lost to Monterrey in last month's CONCACAF Champions League final, went ahead when Peralta, who scored twice in the final 10 minutes to lift the Guerreros past UANL Tigres in the semifinals, took a long ball over the top about 30 yards from the Rayados' goal, opened space with a simple touch, and lofted the ball over goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco.

Suazo was fouled by Felipe Baloy in the Santos box in the first minute of stoppage. His penalty kick, in the fourth minute, beat goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez to the left post.