Three goals from Juan Barrera over a seven-minute period saw Nicaragua overcome a 3-1 first-leg defeat to Haiti and qualify for the Gold Cup.
The teams met in the two-legged series between the fifth-place team from the Caribbean Cup and the fifth-place team from the Copa Centroamericana. With the second leg scoreless entering the final 10 minutes, it seemed Haiti would go through.
But Barrera, the first Nicaragua international to play club soccer in Europe though he now plays in Guatemala, converted a penalty in the 82nd minute and followed it up with goals in the 86th and 88th minute. That gave Los Pinoleros a 4-3 aggregate victory and sent them into the Gold Cup for the first time since 2009 and for only the second time in the country's history.
The qualification prompted joyful fans to rush onto the field to celebrate with the team. "We're thankful for the people who truly believed in this comeback," Barrera told reporters after the game.
La locura en el Nacional. Lo logramos. ¡Estamos en la copa! pic.twitter.com/64r2Pzo7g4— FutbolNica (@FutbolNica) March 29, 2017
Nicaragua slots into Group B with the United States, Panama and Martinique.