Saprissa scored yet another road goal in second-half stoppage time and earned their second consecutive 1-1 tie as Columbus failed to clinch a spot in the knockout round.
For the second consecutive week, Saprissa snatched a road draw from the jaws of defeat as the Costa Ricans pulled out a 1-1 draw at Columbus. Alexander Robinson scored a goal deep in stoppage time to help el Monstruo live to see another day.
Cruz Azul beat Puerto Rico 2-0 in Mexico City to clinch the Group C title. Columbus have a two-point lead over Saprissa and will clinch a spot in the knockout rounds with a win or a Saprissa loss or tie.
The early portion of the match was highlighted by several fouls as neither team let the other settle into a rhythm.
It wasn't until the 11th minute that Saprissa tried a shot on goal when Kendall Watson fired a shot at goal but sent it high over the crossbar.
Columbus' Alejandro Moreno also fired a shot well wide in the 19th minute.
But the hard fouls continued and eventually Saprissa were punished because of it. In the 23rd minute, Walter Centeno helped Columbus take an early advantage. Centeno slid into Columbus' Guillermo Barros Schelotto inside the penalty area and knocked the Argentine down. Centeno slid into Barros Schelotto with his studs up and knocked the reigning MLS Most Valuable Player to the ground.
Columbus were awarded a penalty kick on the play, and Centeno saw yellow. Robbie Rogers stepped to the spot to take the penalty. Rogers sent his shot to the right of Saprissa 'keeper Keilor Navas, who dived to his left.
The hard play continued as each team finished with nine fouls in the first half.
Columbus nearly put the game out of reach in the 57th minute when Emmanuel Ekpo ran through Saprissa's defense. Ekpo dribbled the ball towards the penalty area and fired a shot on goal. Navas dived and made the initial save but the rebound came out to Ekpo. With Saprissa defenders on him, Ekpo tried to redirect the ball into the Saprissa goal but pushed his shot wide to the right of the goal.
Saprissa finally showed some offensive life in the 75th minute. Centeno sent a corner kick to the front of the goal and former Chivas USA defender Douglas Sequiera hit the ball on goal. Crew defender Gino Padula stood on the goal line and made the block.
Each team fouled their way to the 90th minute. In the second half alone, Columbus drew four yellow cards while Saprissa picked one up.
With the game seemingly destined for a dreary 1-0 home victory, Saprissa ultimately had other thoughts. In the first minute of stoppage time, Eric Brunner fouled Jairo Arieto on the left side of the field. Centeno too the set piece and sent a ball to the front of the goal. Robinson ran on the ball and appeared to make contact with Columbus' Brian Carroll before Carroll fell to the ground, but no call was made.
Robinson sent a header down on goal and the ball bounced between Crew 'keeper William Hesmer's legs and into the back of the net.
Stunned, Columbus tried to regroup and worked the ball back towards Saprissa's penalty area. Ekpo found Eddie Gaven on the left side of the goal and Gaven placed a header on frame. However, the ball was not well struck and Navas easily plucked it out of the air.
The match ended shortly after as Columbus squandered a chance to move into the knockout rounds with a game to spare. The Crew next travel to Puerto Rico while Saprissa close out the group stage with a match at home to Cruz Azul.
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