The Costa Rican club Alajuelense and the Honduran team Olimpia will square off in the 2022 Scotiabank Concacaf League Final. Neither side lost a game on their way to the final, despite the difficulty of the schedule, and the outcome was a championship match that will go down as one of the greatest in Concacaf history.
During the Preliminary Round, Alajuelense faced Aguila of El Salvador, who took a 1-0 lead at home in the first leg until Alajuelense earned a late 1-1 draw courtesy to a goal by Bryan Felix. Alajuelense dominated the second leg in Costa Rica, winning 3-0 and taking a 4-1 aggregate lead thanks to goals from Aaron Suarez, Bernald Alfaro, and Aubrey David.
In the Round of 16, Alajuelense faced SCL debutants Alianza of Panama, and a Doryan Rodriguez hat trick, along with goals from Alexander Lopez and Jose Miguel Cubero, gave Alajuelense a dominant 5-0 lead in the series after the first leg. Alajuelense’s undefeated streak was extended in the second leg, when an own goal was enough to seal a 1-1 draw in Panama and a 6-1 aggregate victory.
In the Quarterfinals, another Alianza, this time Alianza of El Salvador, was on the schedule. A tough first leg in San Salvador saw Alfaro score his second goal of the tournament for a 1-0 Alajuelense win, setting up a comprehensive 2-0 home win in the second leg with Suarez scoring his second goal of the tournament and all-time SCL top scorer Johan Venegas converting a penalty for a 3-0 aggregate win.
In the Semifinals, Alajuelense faced Honduran club Real Espana. Real Espana were a difficult rival, having eliminated Costa Rican clubs Cartagines and Herediano in the previous stages, but Alajuelense could not have wished for a better first leg away, as Venegas scored and assisted on goals for Freddy Gondola and Celso Borges in a 3-0 triumph.
A goal from Lopez and a goal in second half stoppage time from Giancarlo Gonzalez earned Alajuelense a 2-2 draw at home, 5-2 on aggregate, and a record of 5W-3D-0L in the competition thus far. There were some tense moments in the second leg of the match.
The path of Olimpia
The route to the Final for Olimpia began in the Round of 16, with a 2-2 first-leg draw away to Municipal of Guatemala, in which Olimpia ended the match with nine men after goals from Brayan Moya and Boniek Garcia. They rebounded brilliantly in the second leg at home, though, as a Michaell Chirinos goal gave them a 1-0 win and a 3-2 aggregate triumph.
In the Quarterfinals against Diriangen of Nicaragua, Olimpia finally found their scoring groove, scoring goals from Moya, Jerry Bengtson, Edwin Rodriguez, and Jorge Benguche for a 4-0 first-leg triumph in Nicaragua. Bengtson, Benguche, and Chirinos all scored in a comeback 3-1 second leg triumph at home for a 7-1 aggregate victory.
The Semifinals were a different scenario, with Olimpia facing Motagua for the second time in SCL history. After a 0-0 tie in the first leg, it appeared like a 0-0 draw in the second leg was also in the cards, however Carlos Sanchez’s stunning strike in the 87th minute gave a 1-0 victory, giving Olimpia a 4W-2D-0L record in the tournament.
Both teams’ journeys to the Final have been emotional roller coasters, and the two legs scheduled for October 26 and November 2 should be no different.
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