Santos were the better team on Sunday, said Juan Pablo Rodriguez, but that meant little in the end.Santos Laguna did everything necessary for a win in Sunday's Bicentenario final against Toluca.
Los Guerreros attacked, defended and stood firm at Estadio Nemesio Diez in Toluca. But when the match came down to penalty kicks, Santos faltered.
Toluca took advantage of Santos' mistakes to lay claim to the Mexican league title, beating Santos 4-3 in the penalty-kick shootout.
The manner in which they played, though, led Santos midfielder Juan Pablo Rodriguez to believe the better team lost.
"To be honest, we were superior," Rodriguez told reporters. "In the 120 minutes we created a lot of scoring chances, we had a couple of opportunities in the penalties that we were unable to convert. It could be that someone from above has something better planned for us because frankly we were denied a championship."
Toluca defended throughout Thursday's 2-2 draw in Santos but were able to score. Their style produced no goals on Sunday but the club was left with the impression that they deserved the title. However, that did not mean that Toluca were undeserved winners, Rodriguez said.
"It's not an injustice because Toluca played their game," he said. "Throughout the series, Toluca did the same thing - they sat back and played for a counterattack. (Sunday) they showed that as well and we showed them that we came for a championship."
Ultimatley, the final came down to penalty kicks. Matias Vuoso and Carlos Adrian Morales had an opportunity to give Santos the championship but each missed the goal altogether. Toluca claimed it in the sixht round when goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera stopped Fernando Arce's attempt.
Losing would have been painful regardless, but having been so close to walk away empty-handed stung more.
"I believe we were very superior with our football," Rodriguez said. "Unfortunately we could not put it away. We had a chance in penalties to lift the trophy... Of course it hurts a lot."
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