Arabe Unido went from underdogs to favorites in a matter of 90 minutes in Costa Rica, earning an away draw to move within one home win of a place in the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals, but it wasn't to be. Alajuelense showed why they were heavy favorites to advance before the first leg in a 2-0 win at Arabe Unido to win the tie.
With the win, Alajuelense booked a spot in the next round, where they will play Toluca. It marks the first time a Costa Rican team has made the semifinals since Saprissa did it in 2011.
Jerry Palacios put Alajuelense in front after just six minutes, capitalizing on a srum in front of goal. Arabe Unido couldn't clear a corner kick so a second shot came in, which Palacios was able to redirect from six yards and give his side the lead.
Alajuelense was the better side the entire match, just missing on a couple occasions and even hitting the crossbar from 25 yards once, but their dominance wasn't rewarded with a second first half goal. The visitors had to settle for a 1-0 halftime lead and Arabe Unido had to feel as if thy still had an undeserved chance to get back in the tie.
Any hopes Arabe Unido had died in the 58th minute, though. That's when Jonatahan MacDonald got on the end of an excellent cross that Alexander Andreve got a hand to, but he couldn't keep the ball out. His header was palmed off the post and just over the line, putting Alajuelense up 2-0.
Alajuelense didn't rest on their lead and came close to scoring a third several times, but their finishing was poor. Lucky for them, it didn't matter. Arabe Unido had made a shock run to the quarterfinals, becoming the first Panamanian side to make it that far, but Alajuelense's quality was too much as the Costa Ricans punched their ticket to the semifinals.