San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Alajuelense End Winless Streak Against Saprissa

There is one shared trait among all streaks: They end.

After 20 consecutive winless games against their archrival in the national soccer league, perennial bridesmaids LD Alajuelense finally beat Deportivo Saprissa, 2-0 in front of an electric home crowd on Wednesday night in the first game of a two-part final of the Winter Tournament.

Alajuelense controlled the whole game, but the last 10 minutes of the first half were particularly deflated the visitors. In a tense 35th minute, Alajuelense volleyed the ball around Saprissa’s penalty box before midfielder Pablo Herrera sent a sharp header to the upper right V for the game’s first goal.

Any hopes Saprissa had of equalizing were dashed when Liga midfielder Cristian Oviedo was taken down inside the box. He easily scored on the resulting penalty kick, putting the home squad up for good as the final whistle blew.

Liguistas glowed as they walked out of the stadium, telling each other “It’s already over,” and that they would soon be celebrating a championship for their team.

The match was the first in the two-leg final of the Winter Tournament.

On Saturday, Saprissa will host La Liga at Ricardo Saprissa Stadium in Tibás, to the capital’s north. In these pairs of matches, often considered one 180-minute game, the team with the better goal differential – more goals scored versus goals allowed – after the ida and vuelta legs will take the tournament championship. Should the teams be tied after the end of regulation – in this case, if Saprissa is leading 2-0 at the end of regulation on Saturday – the teams will play two 15-minute overtimes, and, if necessary, go to penalty kicks after that.

Alajuelense’s last win against the Saprissa came in May 2005.

–Holly K. Sonneland


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