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ALAJUELA, Costa Rica - Alajuelense moved to the brink of the quarterfinals in the CONCACAF Champions League, beating already ousted Motagua 1-0 on Thursday to move three points atop Group A with one match to play.

Jonathan McDonald's header in the 27th minute gave Alajuelense 12 points, three better than Morelia and the LA Galaxy. Only two teams will advance.

Alajuelense, however, must travel to Mexico to face "Los Monarcas" in their group finale on October 18 while the Galaxy will play Motagua in Honduras two days later.

Eliminated last week by Morelia and sitting last in the 10-team Honduran Apertura, Motagua manager Jose Trevino chose not to bring more than half his regulars to Costa Rica, including team scoring leaders Jerry Bengtson and Amado Guevara and goalkeeper Donaldo Morales, and didn't insert Guillermo "Pando" Ramirez until the start of the second half.

Alajuelense had nearly three times the possession in the first half and forced Motagua keeper Kerpo De Leon into three acrobatic saves within the opening 14 minutes.

Pablo Gabbas twice required De Leon to stretch to knock away chances from distance - including one attempt from the midfield stripe in the eighth minute, and Luis Miguel Valle also had his shot from 25 meters pushed away at the left post in the 14th.

McDonald volleyed a cross from Jose Salvatierra that was blocked by Odis Borjas in the 18th that had Alajuelense appealing to Jamaican referee Valdin Ledgister for a handball to no avail.

The Costa Rican side finally went ahead when Marcelo Fazzio's corner kick to the back post was headed back across goal, where an unmarked McDonald, who shares the team scoring lead with three goals this season, nodded in from three meters.

With Ramirez inserted to begin the second half, Motagua enjoyed far more possession and had its best chances, including a quick effort through the middle in the 58th that ended with Milton Reyes' shot into keeper Patrick Pemberton, who didn't have to move to block the try.

The win was Alajuelense's third straight and fourth in its last five games overall and kept it unbeaten at home in four Champions League games. Alajuelense has lost only one of its last 24 games at home, a run that dates to last October.

The loss was the 10th in Motagua's last 13 games, since a season-opening victory over Municipal in July.