A positive start to Champions League play

Impact returns home with two crucial away goals

There’s just something about the Montreal Impact in the Concacaf Champions League that lifts the hairs on your forearms. And a lot of that something was on display tonight.

We all know what happened the last time we were there. Now we’re back for the first time in five years, and it’s like we never left. In the first round, head coach Thierry Henry and his men were taking on Costa Rican side Deportiva Saprissa in the round of 16.

After a good start from the visitors, it was actually a mistake from Saprissa that gave the Impact its first opening, allowing Bojan to try a shot, which was blocked, but Okwonkwo was there to smash home the rebound, giving his side a crucial away goal, and a 1-0 lead.

Montreal used the momentum gained from that goal to push itself forward and fight for a second one, and that’s exactly what they did. Bojan was involved again, finding Quioto in behind the defense with a beautiful floated ball, and the Honduran wasted no time showing off his power, roofing it into the top right corner.

“I’m more than satisfied with the result," said Impact head coach Thierry Henry. "It’s not a bad result and it was a good fight. Unfortunately we lost players at the beginning of the game and we had to adjust. They also adjusted to us in the second half. With the quality they have in midfield, the way they were putting the ball inside and the way they were passing the ball in the second half, they were making us run and it became difficult. We played the first half very well and they played a very good second half. There are things we need to work on but at the end of the day, when you see your team fighting like this until the end, you can only be proud. Nothing is decided yet, with the second leg to be played at home next Wednesday.”

As expected, the hosts picked up the pace in the second half, knowing full well that they had to get on the board to give themselves a chance in the second leg. In the end, they managed to break the Impact’s lines in the 80th minute, when one of their 39 attempted crosses finally connected with Venegas in the box, who found the back of the net. Then, in the 90th, a nice passing play allowed them to tie things up.

All in all, it’s still a favourable scenario for the Impact, heading into the return leg at Olympic Stadium next Wednesday at 8pm. You can still purchase your tickets for the second leg here.