Montreal Impact forward Dominic Oduro (7) reacts after missing a scoring chance

Montreal Impact forward Dominic Oduro (7) reacts after missing a scoring chance

Ghana striker Dominic Oduro?s hopes winning the Concacaf Champions League ended in painful humiliation in Wednesday?s final as his Montreal Impact side crashed to a 4-2 second leg (5-3 aggregate) defeat to Club America of Mexico.

This article titled ?Montreal Impact brutally exposed in Champions League capitulation? was written by Simon Evans, for theguardian.com on Thursday 30th April 2015 02.44 UTC

Major League Soccer?s dream of finally ending Mexican domination of the Concacaf Champions League ended in painful humiliation in Wednesday?s final as the Montreal Impact crashed to a 4-2 second leg (5-3 aggregate) defeat to Club America.

Argentine Dario Benedetto, struck a superb second-half hat trick as the Mexican team turned on the style after going in at half-time trailing by a goal and offered a sharp reality check for those who have wondered, hopefully, whether MLS was finally catching up to the level of Liga MX.

Montreal deserve plenty of credit for reaching the final and even more for getting a draw at the Azteca Stadium against the Mexican champions, but when it came down to the decisive final 45 minutes of the competition, the defensive frailty of Frank Klopas? team was brutally exposed and America proved themselves to be in a different class.

Benedetto, a 24-year-old who is surely going to be on the radar of European clubs, had given notice of his finishing ability with four goals against Herediano in the semi-finals and his partnership with Oribe Peralta simply overwhelmed Montreal.

The Impact, seeking to become the first Canadian team to win the Concacaf title and the first MLS club to triumph since the competition switched to the Champions League format in 2008, had grabbed the lead in the just the eighth minute.

It was a goal that was entirely Argentine produced ? Ignacio Piatti jinked past two America defenders inside the area and slipped the ball to Andres Romero, who cleverly evaded his marker and found space for a low shot home.

America should have been back on level terms just five minutes later though, but their Argentine, Benedetto, somehow managed to hit the inside of the post and the cross-bar from point-blank range after a header across the six-yard box from Pablo Aguilar.

Montreal?s strength on the road had been their threat on the counter-attack and with the Mexicans enjoying the bulk of possession, he Impact relied on that same tactic again.

Those breaks rely on the pace of Dominic Oduro and Dilly Duka down the left and the intelligence of Piatti down the middle. That approach almost brought a second in the 24th minute.

Duka burst down the flank and slipped the ball across to Piatti who wriggled enough space for a shot, but his effort was well-blocked by America keeper Moises Munoz.

America looked jaded, short of ideas and frustrated by the midfield hustling from Montreal and their determined defending.

That frustration began to manifest itself in some off-the-ball pushing and shoving, all though to be fair, Montreal gave as good as they got, showing again, that much of their success in Concacaf has been a unwillingness to be intimidated by their opponents.

Klopas, the Montreal oach, would have been delighted with his team?s display as they went in with a 2-1 aggregate lead at the break, but five minutes after the restart and the Mexicans had leveled up the series and utterly changed the momentum of the encounter.

Osvaldo Martinez spotted Benedetto unattended at the far post, picking him out with a perfectly floated ball which the striker met with a perfectly executed volley that flashed past Kristian Nicht and into the Montreal goal.

The away goal advantage lost, Montreal needed to find a way to slow the game down, re-group and find a way to take the momentum away from a reinvigorated Club America.

They simply couldn?t do that.

A deep ball to the back post was headed across the face of goal by Darwin Quintero and Oribe Peralta, whose late goal had earned his team a draw in the first leg, rose to head in powerfully at the back post to put America ahead in the 64th minute.

Two minutes later and Montreal were ripped apart, Miguel Samudio bursting down the left wing and finding Benedetto at the back post, who illustrated his finishing ability again as he volleyed home from close-range.

Down 3-1 on the night and 4-2 down on aggregate, Montreal were left needing to score three goals having already learnt painfully that they could ill-afford to give America?s front line space.

Benedetto completed his hat trick with a goal that showed he is far more than just a goal-line predator, a brilliant touch earning him space on the edge of the area before he thundered in a left-foot drive to put the contest utterly beyond doubt.

Substitute Jack McInerney scored a late goal for the Impact that served only to prettify the scoreline, altering nothing about the outcome.

Mexican clubs have now won all seven Champions League titles to follow the three straight Concacaf Champions Cups they won before the format switch.

MLS had helped Montreal as best they could, allowing them to skip league games to prepare for their challenges, but it takes more than schedule-fiddling to fill the quality gap between a team playing under a salary cap and roster restrictions, and a club like America with quality throughout and class like Benedetto where it matters most.

guardian.co.uk ? Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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