Alajuelense players celebrate on the bus ride back home after topping host Herediano 5-3 on penalty kicks to win the 2013 Costa Rican Invierno championship on Sunday after their two-legged series ended scoreless. (Photo courtesy of Alajuelense)
HEREDIA, Costa Rica – After consecutive scoreless draws in the two-legged final, Alajuelense outlasted host Herediano 5-3 on penalty kicks on Sunday to capture the 2013 Costa Rican Invierno title and qualify for the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League.
The Manudos lifted the trophy for a 29th time, equaling the mark set by Saprissa in 2010.
A capacity crowd of nearly 8,000 at the Estadio Eladio Rosabal Cordero witnessed a tense affair between two evenly-matched sides that, in many ways, mirrored the first leg.
Very few solid scoring opportunities were produced, especially in a first half that saw neither team risk making a series changing error.
The match opened up and became more fluid following the break, as both sides looked to grab the game-winning goal in regulation time.
In the 50th minute, Minor Diaz’s header was saved by Alajuelense goalkeeper Patrick Pemberton.
Fifteen minutes later, Herediano goalkeeper Leonel Moreira returned the favor, making a tremendous stop off an effort from Honduran international Jerry Palacios.
The game went to extra time and, eventually, penalties were required to determine the champion.
In the second round of the shootout, Herediano’s Keilor Soto sent his attempt over the crossbar, while Cristian Oviedo converted his penalty in the fifth round to give Alajuelense the honors.
The triumph capped a memorable year for Alajuelense. It also won at Mexican power Club America, 1-0, on October 22 to clinch a place in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, where it will face Panama’s Arabe Unido in March.
NOTES: Alajuelense has won five of the last seven Costa Rican titles … Alajuelense has topped Herediano to capture to the last four Invierno crowns … Herediano failed to repeat as Costa Rican champion.