For the first time in eight years, Deportivo Cuenca sits atop the Ecuador’s A-league football championship standings. Cuenca defeated Quito’s Universidad Católica 3-1 Sunday afternoon to secure the top spot.
A one-time football powerhouse, Cuenca has fallen on lean times in recent years, twice struggling to avoid relegation to the country’s B-League. The Southern Express, as the team is known, won several national titles in the 1980s and 1990s and competed in South American team championships against such elite franchises as Argentina’s Boca Juniors.
On Sunday, playing before the home crowd at Alejandro Serrano Aguilar stadium, Cuenca dominated Católica as strikers Roberto Luzarraga, Juan Dinneno, and Michael Hoyos scored, providing the home side an insurmountable lead.
It was party time for the small crowd of 5,000, which sang and danced for much of the game. Most of the fans stayed afterwards and celebrated again at the announcement that El Nacional had defeated Manta’s Delfin, the previous league leader.
“We are thrilled that Cuenca is in contention again,” said fan Xavier Coronel. “We have suffered through the bad years and finally, again, we have reason to cheer. Now, we need to re-energize our supporters and fill the stadium. Next game, we need 20,000 out here cheering the boys.”