The Montreal Impact woke up from their CONCACAF Champions League dream about 45 minutes too early.
The Impact led 1-0 at halftime thanks to an Andres Romero goal. But Club América's relentless attack struck three times in a 16-minute span early in the second stanza, as a Dario Benedetto hat trick powered the Mexican giants to the 2014-15 CCL title with a 4-2 win (5-3 on aggregate) in front of a capacity crowd at Olympic Stadium in Montreal on Wednesday night.
The Impact raced out to a dream start as Ignacio Piatti, Montreal's hero of the first leg in Mexico City, produced a moment of brilliance to set up Romero for the game's opening goal.
Turning by the endline, Piatti slalomed through a thicket of defenders along the right side of the América penalty box, then laid off for Romero, who cut left and steered his low finish through a crowd for a sensational 1-0 early lead.
Piatti was dominating the proceedings, and he soon saw another good look denied by a fine save from Aguilas goalkeeper Moisés Muñoz.
But the visitors responded almost immediately, and only the woodwork kept Benedetto from leveling. Oribe Peralta headed a booming free kick across the face of goal, and with the Montreal defense slow to react, Benedetto needed only to apply a tap at the far post. But his touch sent the ball clanging off the bottom of the crossbar and back down, allowing Montreal to clear the danger.
The game took on an open, breakneck pace, and Bakary Soumaré, José Daniel Guerrero and Pablo Aguilar all earned yellow cards as the tempo flowed back and forth from end to end and both defenses were left dangerously exposed.
The hosts reached the intermission with the lead despite América's waves of pressure. But Benedetto finally broke through with the equalizer five minutes after the restart, latching onto Osvaldo Martínez's lofted pass and smashing an athletic swiveling volley past Kristian Nicht, the Impact's new signing in goal.
Montreal were rocked by the goal, and América star Oribe Peralta made them pay for another defensive breakdown 10 minutes later, heading home from close range to push the Mexicans into their first aggregate lead of the series.
Benedetto pushed the Impact to the brink with another finely-taken finish just four minutes later, then completed his hat trick with an authoritative left-footed strike in the 81st minute as Montreal's defense was torn apart again.
Substitute Jack McInerney salvaged some pride for the Canadian side in the dying minutes. But there would be no way back from those disastrous moments after halftime, as América secured the title of confederation champions, booking their spot in the Club World Cup in Japan later this year.