Nicaraguan side Real Esteli are on their way to the 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League after defeating Motagua of Honduras 4-2 in a penalty shootout following a 2-2 draw in the 2020 Scotiabank Concacaf League Play-In match on Wednesday night at the Estadio Tiburcio Carias Andino in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
Real Esteli rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the second half to earn a 2-2 draw, including the equalizing goal in the waning minutes to force the shootout.
Motagua came storming out of the gates and after three good looks at goal, Kevin Lopez was able to beat Real Esteli GK Denvorn Fox to give Motagua a 1-0 lead in the 37’. A giveaway in the Real Esteli half ended with a slick back-heeled pass from Vega finding the in-stride Lopez, who fired into goal.
Motagua kept their foot on the gas and after a foul in the Real Esteli penalty area, Matias Galvaliz stepped up and confidently stroked home the penalty kick in the 52’ to double the advantage to 2-0.
The visiting Nicaraguans weren’t about to throw in the towel though, and Juan Barrera took a cross from the left and snuck in a shot in the 64’ to make it a 2-1 affair.
Real Esteli’s charge made for a dramatic finish and the Pinoleros’ prayer was answered in the 89’ when a defensive error from Motagua allowed Fernando Mercado to sweep a shot into an open net to pull his side even, 2-2.
In the penalty shootout, Real Esteli were perfect in converting all four attempts, while Motagua were off-target on two of their spot kicks, sealing Real Esteli’s first SCCL qualification since 2016/17.