Sudden Impact in Montreal

STEVEN SANDOR, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:07 AM ET

MONTREAL -- The Montreal Impact continues its march into Canadian soccer history.

Impact striker Eduardo Sebrango found the net twice in his first competitive game for the club since being acquired from the Vancouver Whitecaps in the offseason, giving the Impact an impressive 2-0 lead after the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarter-final against Mexican powerhouse Santos Laguna.

The Impact played in Olympic Stadium for the first time, and Sebrango's opener after just four minutes sent 55,571 delirious supporters -- the majority of which heeded the club's call to wear blue -- into chorus after chorus of "Allez Montreal."

Scoring just minutes after kickoff has become a trademark of the Impact in international play.

In four of the club's six group-stage games, the Impact opened the scoring in 14 minutes or less. And in three of those games, the goals came in under the five-minute mark.

"Obviously, it gives you an advantage," Impact coach John Limniatis said. "It gives you a lot of energy, you start to believe in yourself more."

So, the quick start should have surprised nobody, save for Mexican national goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez, who found himself picking the ball out of his own net after Sebrango placed a perfect half volley just inside the left post. But Sebrango said he had help from a deflection.

"Their defender kicked the ball in, it was an own goal," he said.

Sebrango's second goal, though, was gifted to him by Sanchez. The 'keeper came off his line for a floating ball and flapped at it as it went off Sebrango and looped into the goal in the 77th minute.

Christian Benitez was Santos' most dangerous threat, making several runs down the left wing, but the best he could show for his efforts was one volleyed shot he blazed about a foot over Matt Jordan in the Impact goal -- and the crossbar.

In the second half, Jordan showed the form that made him the MVP of the 2008 Canadian championships, when he dove to the right post to stop a wicked free kick from Santos sub Fernando Arce in the 55th minute.

The fact that the Impact were able to comfortably cope with Santos put to rest any worries that the Canadian champions would be rusty.

The quarterfinal was the Impact's first competitive match since the autumn of 2008, while Santos is in the midst of the Mexican Clausura season.

Impact midfielder and Montrealer Sandro Grande said the enthusiastic crowd helped boost the team.

"This is not a hockey nation. This is a soccer nation. And this is a hockey city."

Now, all the Impact have to do to get to the semifinals is hold a lead next week in Mexico.

If the Impact can defend as it did in front of its home fans, it will move a step closer to the continental championship -- and a trip to the Club World Cup.

But Limniatis won't allow the club to think that far ahead.

NOT OVER YET

"Nothing is over. It's good for now. It's fantastic. But we move on from here. This is just one half of two halves."

"We have to do a good job defensively first, and then go forward," Sebrango said.

Santos coach Daniel Guzman said through a translator that he is confident his team will win the second leg in Mexico next week, and he is not planning on making any significant changes to his lineup.


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