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Pumas crush Saprissa and book ticket to Quarterfinals of CONCACAF Champions League

Pumas struggled at times but prevailed to get a 4-1 win over Saprissa and book their ticket to the Quarterfinals of the CCL.

Pumas UNAM v Saprissa - Concacaf Champions League 2022 Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images

Pumas finally got revenge for the 2005 Champions Cup final by defeating Saprissa 4-1 and booking their ticket to the Quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League. Pumas rescued a 2-2 tie in the 1st leg and struggled up until scoring the second goal and getting the win in the series. Pumas thus made up for losing that final, the last one a Mexican team failed to win in the CONCACAF competition and will now face the New England Revolution, who had a Round-of-16 bye after their rivals, Haitian side Cavaly, dropped out of the competition because they couldn’t get visas to enter the United States.

The 1st half began with Pumas coming out with Julio Gonzalez as the starting goalkeeper because of an injury to Alfredo Talavera. Also missing because of injury was Nicolas Freire with Ricardo Galindo taking his spot. Pumas had a good 3 vs 2 run but Omar Islas failed to cross the ball effectively into the area and it was cleared. Later, Juan Ignacio Dinenno got a left footed shot that was easily saved by Cruz. After a cross into the area was dreadfully cleared by Gonzalez right to Marvin Angulo, who then got a shot that Gonzalez had to clear right to David Guzman, whose shot was blocked by Arturo Ortiz before Gonzalez cleared it again. It was a bad mistake from the goalkeeper, who gifted Saprissa a chance out of nothing. Off a cross into the area, Guzman cleared the ball and came close to scoring an own goal but the ball went out for a corner kick. In the ensuing corner kick, Arturo Ortiz rose to get a solid header past Saprissa’s goalkeeper Aaron Cruz for the 1-0. After a cross off a free kick Gonzalez crashed into Aubrey David and caused both players to be injured although they were able to continue. Off a corner kick, Diogo de Oliveira would rise up to get a header that forced Cruz to make a good save. Christian Bolaños got into the area and made a shot that forced Gonzalez to make a save. After Pumas had dominated, Saprissa finished the better team although they didn’t have chances and Pumas took the lead into halftime.

The 2nd half started with neither team creating chances. Off a corner kick, Pumas fail to clear the ball and it fell to Ryan Bolaños, who got off a great left footed volley past Gonzalez for the 1-1. Pumas answered off a free kick when Diogo got off another header that forced Cruz to make a great save. Pumas would sub out Diogo de Oliveira (who was incredibly mad, and for good reason) for Higor Meritao. A cross into the area was headed wide by Dinenno. Saprissa subbed out Marvin Angulo for Francisco Rodriguez. The substitution happened as Meritao had fallen injured and had to come out to get treatment. Then after a great run, Jeronimo Rodriguez got off a good cross into the area and Juan Ignacio Dinenno made a great move and got off a right footed shot past Cruz for the 2-1. Dinenno celebrated effusively after not having a great game prior to the match and yet coming up big. Saprissa subbed out Walter Cortes for Ariel Rodriguez. From outside the area, Leonel Lopez got kicked in the face and yet the ref failed to call a foul. Pumas would sub out Leonel Lopez and Higor Meritao for Sebastian Saucedo and Santiago Trigos. Then, after a great cross by Alan Mozo, once again Juan Ignacio Dinneno would make a great header that would get past Cruz for the 3-1. It was a great cross and a great header by Dinenno to get a goal that looked key. Saprissa would sub out David Guzman for Victor Medina. Pumas would sub out Favio Alvarez and Juan Ignacio Dinenno for Jose Luis Caicedo and Jose Rogerio. Saprissa came close when a great cross almost got cleared by Ortiz into his net. After a clearance left a 2 vs 1 chance, Rogerio got brought down in the area and the ref failed to give a penalty kick in an incredible mistake. Pumas continued with the play and Mozo got past his defender and crossed it for Jose Rogerio to get a right footed shot past Cruz for the 4-1. The terrible decision from the ref ended up allowing Pumas an even better result with the goal.

17 years later, Pumas were finally able to eliminate Saprissa after their previous famous encounter. Although Pumas have played some Champions League tournaments, the difficulty of Liga MX means they have a lot less opportunities to play the tournament than the Costa Rican side and thus hadn’t played each other since. Pumas however, struggled at times and should have played better especially after finishing the 1st half and starting the 2nd half sluggish. Pumas were the better team though, and the result was fair. Pumas will now concentrate on having their biggest match of the regular season when they play America, who are struggling, but the many injuries for Pumas might even things out.