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Friday, September 22, 2023

CS Herediano stuns Liga Deportiva Alajuelense to win Apertura 2019

Liga Deportiva Alajuelense’s 30th title will have to wait.

Club Sport Herediano stunned Alajuelense in its home stadium on Saturday, winning a penalty kick shootout to claim the 2019 Apertura title of Costa Rica men’s club soccer.

Herediano and Alajuelense tied on aggregate, 2-2, after Saturday’s 2-1 victory from the home side. That and a scoreless extra time were enough to force the deciding shootout in the “Gran Final.”

Herediano made all five of its penalty kicks, and Alajuelense’s Alex López saw his attempt saved as the florences emerged victorious to claim their 28th Costa Rican title.

The penalty kick shootout was the result of a frenetic second half that saw three goals scored in 14 minutes — the first two igniting the Alejandro Morera Soto Stadium crowd into a frenzy, and the third stunning the sold-out venue and forcing overtime.

Bernald Alfaro scored the rojinegros’s first goal in the 73rd minute with a 19-yard strike after a free kick, tying the aggregate score, 1-1. Moments after the match restarted, Jonathan Moya’s header gave Alajuela the lead.

But in the 87th minute, Yendrick Ruiz took advantage of poor marking and a miscue from the Alajuelense goalkeeper to tie the aggregate scoreboard with a gentle header.

The 30-minute overtime was scoreless, leading to the deciding penalty kick shootout that finished in favor of Herediano.

The result continues Alajuelense’s title drought, which has now reached nearly six years (the last in Winter 2013). And this runner-up finish will be particularly painful, as the rojinegros enjoyed historic success during the 2019 Apertura regular season.

Herediano hasn’t waited nearly as long between titles — it claimed the Costa Rican soccer crown just last year (Winter 2018).

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