2/25/2009 – By Vijay Setlur
MONTREAL, Canada – Eduardo Sebrango once in each half to lead the Montreal Impact to a 2-0 win over Mexico’s Santos Laguna before a record crowd Wednesday night in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal.
Sebrango, a former Cuban international who spent the last three seasons with the Vancouver Whitecaps, exchanged passes with from Panamanian stiker Roberto Brown and struck a left-footed shot from the edge of the area that easily beat Mexican national team goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez.
The goal delighted the crowd of 55,571 – the largest for a club that normally plays its games at the adjacent 13,000 capacity Stade Saputo. With temperatures outside well below freezing, the game had beeen moved indoors and drew the third-largest crowd to see a soccer game at Olympic Stadium behind the 71,617 that witnessed the 1976 Summer Games final and the 58,000 that attended a North American Soccer League playoff game in 1981 between the Montreal Manic and Chicago Fire.
Sebrango added a second in the 77th when Nevio Pizzolitto’s long ball out of the back was headed forward by Brown. Sebrango raced in behind lagging defender Johnnie Garcia and headed it past an advancing Sanchez.
Santos will host the second leg on Thursday, March 5 in Torreon, Mexico, with the winner advancing to face either the USA’s Houston Dynamo or Atlante of Mexico.
Santos Laguna had chances to draw even, outshooting the Impact 6-3 in the first half, but could not beat Impact goalkeeper Matt Jordan. The American was outstanding again making smart decisions and key saves on the way to his fifth shutout in eight Champions League matches.
Christian Benitez had several chances for Santos, but shot high and wide for a side that has scored only five goals in seven games in the Mexican Clausura.
Both teams faced challenges coming into the game. Santos Laguna was trying to avoid fatigure from playing its fourth match in 11 days, while the Impact hadn’t played a competitive match since October 28, manifesting itself in numerous errant passes and flubbed crosses. For a daily update of news around the region, please see CONCACAF Video Signals on the bottom of the home page: www.CONCACAF.com