Santa Tecla (pictured) gathers for a team photo prior to its Salvadoran final against Alianza on December 18, 2016, in San Salvador. (Photo courtesy of Santa Tecla)
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador – Sebastian Abreu scored two goals and Santa Tecla rallied to earn a 3-2 win over Alianza in a thrilling 2016 Salvadoran Apertura final on Sunday at the Estadio Cuscatlan.
The victory gave Tecla its second-ever title and a berth in the 2017/18 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League.
Santa Tecla took a 1-0 lead in the second minute of first-half stoppage time, when a pair of Alianza defenders misjudged a free kick lofted into the right side of the box by Juan Barahona. The ball unexpectedly bounced towards the goal, where Gerson Mayen was able to finish with his right foot from five-yards out.
Alexander Larin leveled for Alianza in the 50th minute. Positioned on the right, in close proximity upper corner of the 18-yard box, the 24-year-old fired a brilliant left-footed free kick just inside the near post.
Five minutes later, Rodolfo Zelaya put the Albos in front 2-1, heading home from seven yards off an Oscar Ceren cross near to where Larin struck.
From there, the 40-year-old Abreu – a former Uruguay international -- stole the show for Santa Tecla.
He got a head on Juan Barahona’s free kick to loop an effort from 12-yards out over goalkeeper Daniel Arroyo and make it 2-2 in the 78th minute.
Then, in the first minute of stoppage time, Barahona sent a right-sided corner kick to the right edge of the six-yard box, where Abreu reacted quickly to direct a header into the far-side netting for a 3-2 victory.