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It’s Olimpia at Stade Olympique

Hondurans gain first-ever win in CCL knock-out phase. IMFC .... 1 Olimpia .... 2

CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal - Montreal Impact against CD Olimpia
A poor evening for Thierry Henry and his men.
Photo by Ulrik Pedersen/NurPhoto via Getty Images

No wonder Thierry Henry stood with his head in his hands at the final whistle.

This had to be a hugely frustrating evening watching his side defend poorly, attack un-inventively and generally huff and puff without blowing any houses down.

The bright spot was Taider’s incredible 47th minute, 35-yard volley which threw a lifeline, but didn’t disguise a poor performance by the Algerian. He was not alone. Brault-Guillard has displayed naive defending in the past, and his latest bout this evening allowed Benguche in to score a second away goal for Olimpia.

The young Canadian did not return to the fray for the second-half, replaced by Okwonkwo, who tried hard but lacked finesse, an ingredient sadly missing amongst too many of his colleagues this evening.

CD Olimpia v Montreal Impact: Quarterfinals - Leg 1 - 2020 CONCACAF Champions League
Benguche got away from Brault-Guillard too easily and finished past Diop with aplomb for 2-0.
Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

The central defensive trio looked in the first-half like they’d just been introduced moments before kick-off and contributed irresponsibly to the opening goal when Jerry Bengtson was allowed to glide between Binks and the very ordinary Waterman to lob over Diop and into the net.

The goal came less than a minute after a lengthy stoppage caused by what appeared to be a groin injury to Olimpia ‘keeper Menjivar. Guity his 18 year-old replacement with only one senior game on his CV, was to enjoy the limelight more than he really could have expected.
The development should have played into Montreal hands, but a combination of defensive slackness so soon after, and a display lacking of any real creativity throughout the first 45 mins proved their undoing.

It did get a little better in the second-half, but it was all effort and forced. A second-half performance devoid of composure or craft at least saw them up the tempo, but it wasn’t pretty and Olimpia were too assured and comfortable defending their lead.

The one moment which could have seen Montreal restore parity with seven minutes left to play, was pulled from under them by referee, Escobedo, or rather one of his assistants.

Mr Escobedo appeared at first to award Montreal a penalty for Nunez’s handball off Jackson-Hamel’s header. Replays seemed to confirm the referee’s initial instinct was good, but after consultation with his assistant, he remarkably overturned the decision, awarding only a corner amidst much further confusion.

The assistant’s position was that Nunez’s arm was in a natural position, therefore a penalty should not be awarded, the referee deferring to his assistant’s opinion despite thinking differently and being much closer to the incident himself.

It certainly was a strange turn of events. There is no VAR in CONCACAF Champions League play, but when he checks a monitor later this evening, Mr Escobedo may rest less comfortably than if he hadn’t changed his mind.

MLS: Champions League Quarterfinal-CD Olimpia at Montreal Impact
Montreal ‘keeper Clement Diop makes a crucial interception midway through the first-half after Jerry Bengtson again manages to race clear of the Montreal defence.
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to see a way back for Montreal for whom Victor Wanyama began his debut confidently and assuredly before we saw less of him as the game wore on. He was still more prominent than Quioto however, who looked like he didn’t want to irritate old friends. The Honduran’s contribution was an abject one, and it was no surprise to see him replaced on 72 mins.

Jackson-Hamel should have equalized with a header on 77 mins after Ballou-Tabla’s cross, but he managed only to direct the ball wide of goal. It turned out to be Montreal’s last real chance of the evening, and now they face an uphill battle in Tegucigalpa next week to advance in the competition.

For Olimpia, it was a first-ever victory in the knock-out stages of CCL and a first-ever competitive away win over a team from MLS.

IMFC - Diop - Waterman, Fanni, Binks - Brault-Guillard (Okwonkwo, 46), Piette, Taider, Wanyama, Corrales - Urruti (Jackson-Hamel, 58), Quioto (Ballou-Tabla, 72)

CDO - Menjivar (Guity, 14) - Nunez, Oliva, Leveron, Mejia (Canete, 90) - Rodriguez, Pineda, Flores, Garrido (Pinto, 85) - Bengtson, Benguche

Match Officials -
Referee - Adonai Escobedo (MEX)
Asst Refs - William Arrieta (CRC), Jose Martinez (MEX)
4th Official - Luis Enrique Santander (MEX)