Club America was supposed to have an easy time with Group 4, but apparently nobody told Alajuelense that. They beat Las Aguilas at home earlier in the competition and on Tuesday, needing a draw to advance, they shined yet again. Thanks to a Jerry Palacios goal, Alajuelense upended America 1-0 at Estadio Azteca to book their spot in the quarterfinals and send the Liga MX champions out of the competition.
The match was somewhat open to begin with both teams pushing numbers forward and getting looks at goal, but they struggled to turn generate any great scoring chances. Whenever teams got a look at goal, they fired away, often from 20 yards or more. When they did get close, they often missed the frame or were turned away by some brilliant last ditch defending.
The stalemate lasted until the 54th minute when Palacios slipped away from the America defense. He found himself unmarked from 10 yards and when Ariel Soto's cross hit him with a pinpoint cross, the Honduran finished. He snapped his header home, quieting the Azteca and putting America on the brink.
America pressed to find an equalizer, knowing that they needed a win to advance, but it wasn't to be. Even Raul Jimenez couldn't find the net from five yards out when unmarked, hitting the ball off the post to the astonishment of his teammates. After that, and a handful of fine saves by Patrick Pemberton, it was clear that it wasn't America's night. It was America's tournament either. The upset was complete and they bowed out as Alajuelense celebrated a trip to the quarterfinals.