Paolo Suarez (pictured) scored Comunicaciones' third goal in its 3-1 win over Heredia in the second leg of the Guatemalan Apertura final on December 14, 2013, in Guatemala City. (Photo: Allan V. Crane)
GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala – Comunicaciones captured its third straight Guatemalan title and qualified for the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League on Saturday, outlasting Heredia 4-3 on penalty kicks, after their 2013 Apertura final series ended 3-3 on aggregate.
The host Cremas overcame a 2-0 first-leg deficit leg to win the return match, 3-1, ultimately forcing the championship to be decided from the spot at the Estadio Cementos Progreso.
Heredia seemed to have a firm grip on the trophy in the 26th minute, when Anderson Andrade struck off the right post and into the net from 13-yards out to give the visitors a 1-0 lead on the day and 3-0 overall.
It was not until the second half that Comunicaciones got its rally into full stride.
Jose Manuel Contreras made it 1-1 in the 64th minute, sharply heading home from 10-yards out off a Carlos Figueroa cross.
Four minutes later, Contreras put the Creamas ahead 2-1 with a tremendous right-footed blast from in excess of 30-yards out that swerved to the left of goalkeeper Jose Calderon.
Knowing that it needed another goal to force extra time, Comunicaciones kept pushing forward and generated several near misses. It was rewarded for its endeavor, though, with four minutes left in regulation time.
A long throw-in was headed backwards into the box by Minor Lopez to the influential Contreras, who dropped a pass to the unmarked Paolo Suarez. Without missing a beat, the unmarked 33-year-old calmly stroked a left-footed effort from the top of the semi-circle that eluded the sprawling Calderon and found the back of the net.
With the final level at 3-3, an additional 30 minutes were contested without any more goals.
Heredia, though was dealt a blow when Calderon was sent off for a second yellow in the 119th minute. Forward Robin Betancourth assumed the responsibility of guarding the Jaguares’ goal during the penalty kicks.
Each team missed twice, so it came to the sixth round, where Heredia’s Wilfred Velasquez hit the crossbar. With the title on his foot, Jorge Aparicio converted, allowing Comunicaciones to hoist the trophy for a 27th time.
“That’s how you win title,” said Comunicaciones goalkeeper Juan José Paredes after the match. “We have that hunger for glory. It has not been at all easy, but we showed it on the field.
“Now it’s time to celebrate.”
NOTES: Comunicaciones and Heredia represented Guatemala in this season’s CONCACAF Champions League.