Rolando Blackburn (right) celebrates after scoring Saprissa's only goal in a Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League draw with the host Portland Timbers on October 19, 2016, in Portland, Oregon. (Photo: Mexsport)
PORTLAND, Oregon -- Saprissa (2W-2D-0L, 8 points) secured a spot in the 2016/17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals on the strength of a 1-1 draw with the host Portland Timbers (2-1-1, 7) at Providence Park on Wednesday night.
The Monstruo Morado finished atop Group B with eight points, one ahead of Portland, which needed a win in order to progress.
Rolando Blackburn got Saprissa on the scoreboard first in the 24th minute, when he headed Hansell Arauz's right-sided cross beyond goalkeeper Jake Gleeson from eight-yards out for his third goal of the competition.
The Timbers were handed a lifeline in the 57th minute thanks to Jack McInerney, who headed home from seven yards off Jack Barmby's corner kick from the left to equalize at 1-1. It was McInerney's second goal of the group stage and fifth of his SCCL career.
McInerney was a force throughout the second half. In the 48th minute, defender Alvas Powell’s low and driven cross into the box connected with the forward at the near post, with the resulting flick just going wide of the target.
Two minutes later, McInerney ran on to defender Vytas Andriuskevicius' pass down the left wing, before cutting inside and hitting a well-struck effort that was blocked by the Saprissa defense.
Earlier in the first half, McInerney set the ball into the path of Lucas Melano, whose rocket from inside the 18-yard box forced goalkeeper Danny Carvajal to make a diving save.
Saprissa extended its record for most SCCL wins by a Costa Rican club to 17, two more than Herediano.