3/5/2009– TORREON, Mexico – Carlos Darwin Quintero scored twice in second-half injury time and rallied Santos Laguna to a 5-2 victory over the Montreal Impact on Thursday, sending it to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League.
After falling behind 2-1 in the first half, which put it behind 4-1 on aggregate and on the away goals tiebreaker, Santos scored four times in the second half. Walter Jimenez was involved in all four, including Quintero’s goals in the third and fourth minutes of injury time to give Santos a 5-4 aggregate victory.
The dramatic comeback gave Mexico three of the four semifinalists, with Santos joining Atlante and Cruz Azul. Santos will face Atlante in the two-leg semifinals March 17-19 and April 7-9. The Puerto Rico Islanders won 1-0 at CD Marathon of Honduras on Wednesday to claim its semifinal berth and will face Cruz Azul.
Roberto Brown scored his fourth goal of the tournament in the 24th and Eduardo Sebrango his third in two games in the 38th to put Montreal ahead 2-1 and seemingly into the semifinals.
After Montreal won 2-0 last week before a club-record home crowd of 55,571 at Olympic Stadium, Brown scored a critical away goal by capitalizing on a howling defensive mistake by Santos’ Juan Pablo Rodriguez. The 29-year-old defender appeared to be attempting to pass the ball back to teammate Juan Pablo Santiago, but his ill-aimed weak ball was intercepted by Brown near the top of the penalty area.
Brown took another touch and shot into the far corner to equalize 1-1. Sebrango, a former Cuban international who returned to the Impact in the off-season, added to Montreal’s cushion by finishing work by Joey Gjersten down the right side. Gjersten was able to work free along the byline and sent it to Sebrango, who with his back to goal turned on the 6-yard line and easily beat substitute keeper Miguel Becerra.
Becerra had been forced into the game four minutes earlier when Oswaldo Sanchez began limping and had to come off the field.
Santos started quickly, earning a pair of corners within the first eight minutes and creating numerous dangerous chances. Christian Benitez scored his fifth goal of the tournament in the 16th minute, driving a header inside the left post from the edge of the 6-yard box after Montreal defender Nevio Pizzolitto misjudged the cross and allowed it to sail over his head.
After trailing 2-1 at intermission, Santos again took the initiative to start the second half, equalizing in the 54th minute when Matias Vuoso converted the rebound of a shot by Walter Jimenez that Montreal keeper Matt Jordan was able to block but not control.
Santos continued to press forward, with Carlos Darwin Quintero hitting the post in the 55th minute and even scoring a goal that was disallowed for offside in the 71st.
Vuoso scored a second in the 74th to put Santos ahead 3-2. Quintero sent a ball into Jimenez, who crossed into the area to an open Vuoso, who converted for his third goal of the tournament.
The match was Santos’ sixth game in 18 days, including both quarterfinal legs, while Montreal has another 5½ weeks before the start of its season.