MEXICO CITY – America drew 1-1 in the second leg of its CONCACAF Champions League round-of-16 clash against Costa Rica’s Saprissa, a result that gave the Mexican side a 6-2 victory on aggregate and a berth in the quarterfinals.
After routing Saprissa 5-1 on Feb. 21 in San Jose, America was able to conserve its energy here Wednesday night at Estadio Azteca against an opponent that never posed any real threat but at least was able to avoid a second straight blowout.
Saprissa managed a better result on the road, although the game started in inauspicious fashion for the Costa Rican club when Darwin Quintero scored in the opening minute.
In an outstanding individual effort, the Colombian forward took possession of the ball at midfield, eluded several Saprissa players, and then launched a lofted shot from far outside the penalty box that entered the goal over the head of net minder Kevin Briceño.
With a 6-1 lead on aggregate, America focused on clock management and did not exert itself in a bid to pile on further, although Quintero, Cecilio Dominguez and Henry Martin all had chances from inside the area before halftime that they failed to convert.
Instead, it was Saprissa that pulled one back eight minutes after the intermission on a goal by Mariano Torres, who spun around his mark and launched a potent left-footed strike that defender Emanuel Aguilera did little to prevent and which snuck inside the left upright past goalkeeper Oscar Jimenez.
America will next take on Panamanian club Tauro starting next week in the quarterfinals of this regional competition, CONCACAF’s answer to the UEFA Champions League.
Tauro and FC Dallas finished tied 3-3 on aggregate after two legs in their round-of-16 battle, but the Panama City side advanced on away goals.