Hernandez’s late goal gives Motagua magical night at Pachuca
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Hernandez’s late goal gives Motagua magical night at Pachuca

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PACHUCA, HIDALGO Thursday night at the Estadio Hidalgo in Pachuca, Mexico, proved to be a magical one for Honduran club Motagua, who got a late penalty conversion from Eddie Hernandez to earn a 1-1 draw at Pachuca in the Round of 16 second leg and a spot in the 2023 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals.

Eddie Hernandez’s goal served as the away goal tiebreaker after a 1-1 final on aggregate, sending the Hondurans to the final eight of the tournaments where they will square off with 2020 SCCL champions Tigres.

Pachuca came out of the gates strong and were an inch away from getting a goal in the 8’ via a Luis Chavez free kick. Similar to his stunning strike in the 2022 FIFA World Cup for Mexico against Saudi Arabia, Chavez fired in a left-footed effort toward goal that left the crossbar quivering.

The Tuzos continued to pose problems for the Motagua defense and a second crack via a free kick for Chavez almost yielded an opening goal, with this attempt blazing over the crossbar.

Pachuca then ended the half with another close call when an unmarked Javier Lopez headed right into the hands of Motagua GK Marlon Licona.

The first big chance of the second stanza fell for Motagua in the 62’ when a deep cross was met by the charging Gaspar Triverio, whose powerful header flashed wide.

The urgency could be felt inside the stadium as play drifted into the final half-hour and the home fans were left feeling exasperated when a Robert De La Rosa brought out a reaction save from Licona.

Pachuca kept plugging away and finally the breakthrough came in the 73’ through Illian Hernandez, who snapped home a header off a cross from the right wing to give Pachuca a 1-0 lead.  

But just when the home side thought they had things all wrapped up, a late chance from Motagua led to a foul in the Pachuca area and a penalty. 

Hernandez stepped up to take the spot kick and calmly beat Pachuca GK Oscar Ustari in the 89’ to make it a 1-1 scoreline that held until the final whistle, earning Motagua the dramatic series win.