The Montreal Impact had the lion’s share of possession, but they were hit twice on first-half counterattacks and fell to CD Olimpia, 2-1, in the first leg of the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals at Stade Olympique.
The second leg will be played in San Pedro Sula on March 17.
It appeared to be a nightmare start for CD Olimpia when goalkeeper Edrick Menjivar suffered an apparent groin injury in the 13th minute and was replaced by 22-year-old Alex Guity, who had previously made just one first team appearance.
But moments after the substitution, directly off the restart, Jerry Bengtson was sent in behind by Matias Garrido and the former New England Revolution Designated Player put his shot off the charging Clement Diop and into the net to give Olimpia the 1-0 lead in the 15th minute.
Things went from bad to worse for the Impact in the 41st minute when Bengtson latched onto a long ball out of the back and headed to Jorge Benguche, who blew past Impact defender Zachary Brault-Guillard and fired low inside the far post for a second critical away goal.
Thierry Henry made a tactical change, bringing on Orji Okwonkwo for Brault-Guillard to start the second half. And just two minutes after the restart, Saphir Taider sparked Stade Olympique with a sensational half-volley from distance to pull the Impact to within a goal.
Taider had a golden chance to equalize in the 71st minute, but he fired his 20-yard free kick over the Olimpia wall and well over the net. Six minutes later, Anthony Jackson-Hamel missed a headed sitter from just outside the six-yard box.
The Impact believed they had a chance to level from the penalty spot in the 82nd minute when referee Adonai Escobedo initially pointed to the spot after Maylor Nunez appeared to handle Jackson-Hamel’s headed shot. But he waved off the PK after a conversation with assistant referee William Arrieta.
- 15’ — OLI — Jerry Bengtson | WATCH
- 41’ — OLI — Jorge Benguche | WATCH
- 47’ — MTL — Saphir Taider | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: As thrilling as the comeback attempt was, this was a bad result for the Impact, who were burned by a pair of first-half counters and will now need to find a pair of goals in San Pedro Sula to stay alive in the tournament. Of course, they did just that in the opening leg of the Round of 16 against Saprissa in Costa Rica.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: It’s got to be the moment that will be debated among Impact fans. Did Montreal deserve a late PK? Did Maylor Nunez commit a hand ball when he blocked Anthony Jackson-Hamel’s headed shot? You be the judge.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Jerry Bengtson not only gave Olimpia a dream start with his 15th-minute goal, a calming moment after a forced change to an inexperienced goalkeeper, but he also set up Jorge Benguche for the massive second away goal.
- MTL: Tuesday, March 17 at CD Olimpia (8 pm ET | FS2, TUDN, TSN, RDS)
- OLI: Sunday, March 15 at Motagua (6 pm ET)