Soccer  > General Soccer  > Marathon beats Saprissa to revive CCL chances
September 23, 2010, 11:02 AM
SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras -- Marathon kept alive its chances of advancing to the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, defeating Saprissa 2-1 at Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano Wednesday night.

Marathon improved to six points and climbed into a virtual second-place tie in Group C with Saprissa, which led on head-to-head goal difference. Both teams trail Mexico's Monterrey, which has the full 12 points from four matches and was on the verge of the quarterfinals.

Seattle Sounders FC of Major League Soccer has zero points and is virtually eliminated.

After very little separated the teams in a first half with few scoring chances, Mario Berrios put Marathon ahead four minutes after halftime on a left-footed shot from 30 meters that sailed over the right shoulder of Saprissa goalkeeper Fausto Gonzalez.

The goal by Berrios, who also scored Marathon's lone goal in a 4-1 defeat at Saprissa on August 26, spurred the action, as both sides attacked end-to-end.

Saprissa nearly equalized in the 54th minute when Shane Orio nearly pushed the ball over his own net on a save attempt. But the Marathon goalkeeper recovered, keeping the ball on the line.

Marathon doubled its lead in the 65th minute on a spectacular own-goal by Esteban Sirias, who volleyed Milton Palacios' cross from 23 meters behind a stunned Gonzalez.

Saprissa, though, immediately replied as Josue Martinez slipped a clever ball to Jairo Arrieta, who hammered it past Orio from inside the six-yard box seconds later.

In the 75th minute, Walter Centeno had a free kick from distance that deflected off the Marathon wall and out for a corner kick. Centeno's corner went directly into Orio, who quickly started the counter attack.

Three minutes later, Carlos Mejia raced into the Saprissa area, but Gonzalez did well to come off his line to cut off the opportunity.

The final 10 minutes of the match saw players from both teams collapse to the turf, suffering from cramps.

In the 86th minute, Saprissa was awarded a free kick 27 meters from goal. But Centeno's service bounced around by the far post before it was finally cleared by a Marathon defender.

That would be as close as the visitors would get to the equalizer as Marathon ended the game strong as Milton Palacios forced Gonzalez into a save deep into second-half stoppage time.

On Tuesday, Saprissa hosts group-leading Monterrey, which rallied to defeat Seattle 3-2 earlier Wednesday, while Marathon heads to Qwest Field to face the winless Sounders the next night.

The top two teams from Group C will qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.

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