Real España celebrates after winning the 2014 Honduran Apertura title on December 15, 2013, in Tocoa, Honduras. (Photo courtesy of Real España)
TOCOA, Honduras – Real España overcame Real Sociedad 3-1 on penalties Sunday to claim the 2013 Honduran Apertura crown and qualify for the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League at the Estadio Francisco Martinez. The two-match series ended 3-3 on aggregate after host Sociedad won the second leg, 2-0, forcing two periods of extra time.
In the penalty shootout, Real España goalkeeper Luis Lopez made three saves, while Palomo Rodriguez, Gerson Rodas and Bryan Acosta successfully converted their kicks for the San Pedro Sula-based side, which captured its 11th domestic title.
A 3-1 setback in the opener forced Real Sociedad to come out in an offensive posture, but it was unable to find the net until the first minute of first-half stoppage. Elkin Gonzalez converted a penalty following a Lopez foul on Rony Martínez in the box.
The home team enjoyed solid stretches of possession in the second half. Real España’s defense, though, remained stout as Lopez made several critical stops.
One minute into second-half injury time, Sociedad’s Henry Martínez made it 2-0 on the day and 3-3 overall, jumping high to head a left-sided cross inside the right post.
In the 104th minute, Lopez made a tremendous save, thwarting Rony Martinez, who raced into the left side of the Real España penalty area alone.
NOTES: Real España has made two previous appearances in the CONCACAF Champions League (2009-10, 2011-12).