Saprissa tops tough Belen to stay on track

Saprissa's Rolando Blackburn (pictured) scored in a Costa Rican Invierno win over visiting Belen on November 3, 2016, in Tibas, San Jose, Costa Rica. (Photo courtesy of Deportivo Saprissa)


SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – Saprissa (13W-4D-3L, 43 points) extended its 2016 Costa Rican Invierno winning streak to three games and increased its lead atop the table to four points, edging Belén Siglo XXI, 2-1, on Wednesday.

The Monstruo Morado rallied from an early deficit thanks to late goals by Rolando Blackburn (77’) and Francisco Calvo (88’). It was the third straight outing in which the 2016/17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinalist struck for two goals and head coach Carlos Watson was delighted with the outcome. 

“More than patience, it was of perseverance,” he said in the post-game press conference. “The effort was from the heart and we managed to take the match. It had been a very close match like we expected…well played by Belen.

“The matches against Belen are always hugely difficult and they are very dangerous in finding spaces. They had a good block, and their ability and velocity had us off balance. Today, playing from the back went poorly because they pressured us, but we were going to keep trying.” 

With matches against Perez Zeledon (November 6, away) and Municipal Liberia (November 12, home) remaining in the regular season, Saprissa is attempting to hold off second-place Herediano (11-6-2, 39), which still has three games to play. 

Watson says that there will be no let up from his side during the stretch run.

“We are in the fight for first place,” concluded the 64-year-old. “We cannot save ourselves for anything.”

Saprissa has won three of the last five Costa Rican titles.