TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras–Most strikers tend to slow down and not be as effective when they reach 34 years of age.
But obviously, Javier Estupinan did not get the memo.
The 34-year-old delivered a vintage performance on Thursday night in the second leg of the 2018 Scotiabank Concacaf League semifinals in a 2-0 win over Tauro, and was a big reason why Motagua has advanced to the final 3-2 on aggregate to face Herediano of Costa Rica.
It was apparent early on that the Tauro defenders were going to have their hands full with Estupinan.
The Colombian forward nearly broke the deadlock in the 37’ when he fought off a Tauro defenders and headed toward goal, only to see the ball graze off the post.
The near miss only galvanized Estupinan, and four minutes later he drew a foul from Tauro DF Rigoberto Nino to earn a penalty, which was converted by Roberto Moreira for a 1-0 Motagua lead.
Those five minutes were a microcosm of Estupinan’s splendid night. His legs never tired, running when others appeared to be tiring, while also holding up play and incorporating teammates in attack.
One could say the same about his defensive work. Whenever a Tauro man was on the ball, it was Estupinan closing him down and applying pressure, forcing wayward and imprecise passes out of the Panamanians.
It was a performance that will live in Motagua lore, plus it made some Concacaf history along the way as the lone player to have qualified for two SCL finals.
At this time last season, the attacker was a member of the Olimpia squad that claimed the inaugural SCL, playing five matches in the 2017 SCL, including the first leg of the final versus Santos de Guapiles.
After transferring to Motagua last winter, Estupinan once again finds himself in the familiar surroundings of the SCL final, and Thursday night’s performance is proof that at age 34, Estupinan is better than ever.