Deportivo Saprissa secured their spot in the final of the CONCACAF Champions Cup on Wednesday, beating Houston Dynamo 3-0 in a match the Costa Rican side dominated from start to finish.
However, as impressive as the men in purple were, Houston was disappointing and, missing four first team regulars, never looked like it could snatch victory.
The result and the performance will leave the Texans ruing their inability to kill off “El Monstruo,” as Saprissa is known, in the first leg, which ended in a 0-0 draw despite their superiority that night.
The home team Wednesday hit its stride right from the kickoff, creating chances almost immediately. Saprissa looked particularly dangerous when attacking down the left flank, and striker Ronald Gómez should have scored from a dangerous cross in the 13th minute, heading over from just 6 yards out.
Having done well to hold out during the first half-hour, Houston then gifted the home side the lead after Saprissa scored a soft goal in minute 35. Jervis Drummond fed Armando Alonso on the edge of the penalty area and, although his left-footed shot took a deflection, Houston goalkeeper Tony Caig failed to stop the ball from squeezing under his body.
The score remained 1-0 at halftime, and Houston was still far from out of it. Just three minutes after the restart, however, Celso Borges ended Texan hopes of a comeback with a great turn and shot after the Dynamo failed to deal with a cross.
At 2-0, El Monstruo was cruising and several more good chances went begging.
Their complacency almost gifted a goal back to Houston when goalkeeper Keylor Navas flapped at a cross. The ball fell to Houston star player Brian Ching, who had been virtually anonymous thus far, but Navas recovered superbly to palm away his drilled shot.
Houston’s miserable night was complete, however, when, with 15 minutes left and having just missed a good chance at one end, a poor back pass allowed striker Jairo Arrieta to steal in past the stranded Caig at the other end of the field and slot home for an opportunistic third goal.
In addition to the success on the pitch, there was relief for authorities as the game passed without any crowd trouble. CONCACAF had ordered the Tibás-based side to tighten security at the Ricardo Saprissa Stadium following an incident in the quarterfinal tie against Atlante on March 20, when an object hurled from the crowd struck a visiting player.
The result means that Saprissa is still on course for a fourth title, having won the tournament in 1993, 1995 and 2005. The winner of the competition will be invited to the 2008 FIFA Club World Cup.
In the other semifinal, defending champions Pachuca CF of Mexico endured some nervous moments at the end before securing their final spot. Despite a 2-1 loss Wednesday to D.C. United in Washington, D.C., the Mexican side’s 2-0 home victory last week gave them a 3-2 aggregate score to advance them to the finals.
The first leg will be held at Saprissa Stadium on April 23. The second is scheduled in Pachuca on April 30.