Despite missing eight regulars on national team duty, LD Alajuelense defeated CSD Comunicaciones 3:2 at Estadio Mateo Flores in Guatemala City on Sunday to take a huge advantage in their FC Champions Cup quarterfinal series.
Sandro Alfaro's goal four minutes from time gave the visitors the victory in a thrilling contest, with the return match set for 24 April in Costa Rica.
The match was always set to be a tactical battle with the absences, and Jose Luis Pinto set out his side in a conservative, yet effective, tactical scheme with Luis Diego Arnaez serving as a deep holding midfielder, almost a fifth defender in front of the back four. Comunicaciones technical director Carlos Miloc meanwhile came out looking for goals with a back three and wingbacks with full licence to go forward - though LDA exposed the flanks for all three goals.
Comunicaciones started the brighter, and created two good opportunities inside of the first 15 minutes. Milton Nuñez saw his chance just tipped away by Alajuelense custodian Ricardo Gonzalez, before a clear header from Edwin Westphal was directed right at the 'keeper.
The early pressure paid off on 32 minutes, when a cross from Jorge Rodas found a completely unmarked Fredy Thompson in the goalmouth and he headed home from close range.
But barely had the celebration died down in the stands than Erick Jimenez equalized eight minutes from the break. He collected a pass from the opposite flank in the right side of the area and sent it back across goal past Comunicaciones 'keeper Dany Ortiz.
The game began to lose some spark in the second half before substitute Roy Myrie turned the affair. He beat a pair of tackles on the flank and whipped in a cross where Jimenez pounded the ball off the inside of the post for his second of the day.
With Comunicaciones now forced to desperately chase the equalizer at home, it came from a freekick when Nuñez played a pinpoint pass quickly to Fredy Garcia inside the area, who found the back of the net with a left-footed blast.
After Nuñez saw his potential game-winner rebound off the crossbar, the visitors were left with one more answer. Another young substitute, Warren Granados, again escaped on the flank to put in a quality cross, Sandro Alfaro heading home to give LDA a tremendous advantage in returning home for the second leg.
14.04.2002 Cd. Guatemala, Estadio Mateo Flores
CSD COMUNICACIONES – LD ALAJUELENSE 2:3 (1:1)
Fredy THOMPSON 32’; Fredy GARCÍA 77’ – Erick JIMÉNEZ 37’, 67’; Sandro ALFARO 86’
COM: Dany Ortiz; José González, Gustavo Cabrera, Edín López; Nestor Martínez, Jorge Rodas, Fredy Thompson (55: Mario Rodríguez), Fredy García, Edwin Westphal (46: Claudio Rojas); Horacio Torlacoff (57: Everaldo Velencia), Milton Núñez
LDA: Ricardo González; Alexánder Castro, Javier Delgado, Pablo Chinchilla; Esteban Sirias Luis Diego Arnáez, Sandro Alfaro; Marvin Chinchilla (46: Roy Myrie), Pablo Izaguirre (73: Warren Granados); Vicente Rocela (62: Josef Miso), Erick Jiménez
BOOKED: Sandro Alfaro 13', Luis Arnaez 76', Ricardo Gonzalez 88', Warren Granados 89'
R: José PINEDA(HON)