The legendary Deportivo Saprissa, a staple of first division football in Costa Rica and one of the top-ranked teams in the CONCACAF, lost unceremoniously in a tight match played against the Asociacion Deportiva Santos at the National Stadium earlier tonight. It was a surprise victory for AD Santos, an otherwise modest team from Guapiles that has played a very solid season in the Summer Tournament 2012.
AD Santos went on the offensive from the start. The players from Guapiles were not creative, but their tenacity was apparent early on. Their basic strategy consisted of launching incursions from both wings and looking for striker Cristian Lagos to deliver a header towards the goalposts guarded by Saprissa goalkeeper Victor Bolivar. This strategy continued until 30 minutes into the first half, when one of Cristian Lagos’ numerous headers finally resulted in the only goal of the game.
Saprissa opted for counterattacks the entire first half, even after they were down by one goal. The game was intense at times, but the reaction by the Saprissa players was simply not explosive enough to pierce the goalposts of AD Santos. The only clear opportunities came from Jorge Alejandro Castro and Minor Escoe, and even then goalkeeper Johnny Aguilar did not have to worry too much.
The last 15 minutes of the game saw Saprissa playing with five or six attackers at once, while the entire AD Santos team played defense and tried to launch counterattacks. Desperation took hold of the Saprissa strikers, who brought a lot of heart to the game, but in the end they lacked the calm and concentration they needed to even the score.
AD Santos advances to the finals for the second time in the team’s history, while this will be the fourth tournament in a row that Saprissa fails to advance to the finals -a veritable drought for a team that boasts the most tournaments won in Costa Rica.
The reaction from Saprissa’s close-knit community of loyal fans was immediate. On Saprissa de Corazon, an official Facebook Timeline that boasts 175,000 followers, more than 900 comments were posted over the space of an hour after the game was over. Many fans called for the resignation of Brazilian-born coach Alexandre Guimaraes and the return of Hernan Medford. Other irate supporters questioned the team’s performance under pressure.
AD Santos will wait on tomorrow’s result between Club Sport Herediano and Municipal Perez Zeledon.