MONTREAL — Thierry Henry suffered his first loss as head coach of the Montreal Impact in upset fashion. Honduran club C.D. Olimpia stunned the Impact with two first half goals and took the first leg of the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinal with a 2-1 win.
C.D. Olimpia opened the score second after needing to substitute goalkeeper Edrick Manjivar due to an injury when the Honduran side took advantage of a long ball played to the center of midfield.
Leonardo Garrido headed the ball inside the 18-yard box and into Jerry Bengston’s run. The former New England Revolution player beat Clement Diop towards the far post to give his side the opening goal.
Olimpia notched a second goal at the 40th minute. Bengston headed a through ball for Jorge Benguche towards the left flank. The striker blew past Zachary Brault-Guillard and drilled a shot toward the right goal post to get his team up 2-0.
“A game is played on 90 minutes, not on 45. We can’t concede the goals we took,” Henry said of his team. “It’s tough to win a football game when we take these kinds of goals. I call them schoolboy errors.”
Henry moved to a four defender formation for the first time this season after halftime. The Impact added winger Orji Okwonkwo for right back Zachary Brault-Guillard.
Olimpia defender Maylor Nunez and Montreal Impact midfielder Saphir Taider (8) vie or the ball during the first half of a CONCACAF Championship League soccer quarterfinal Tuesday, March 10, 2020, in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP)
The Impact brought the score to one goal only two minutes into the second half.
Orji Okwonkwo, who had just subbed in at halftime left the ball for Saphir Taider 30 yards away from goal. The Algerian shocked the Olimpia keeper with a powerful shot towards the upper left hand corner to bring the score to 2-1.
The Impact suffered a controversial call late in the second half where center back Maylor Nunez appeared to commit a hand ball inside the six-yard box. Referee Adonai Escobedo initially gave the Impact a penalty but then reversed his call to a goal kick. After a conversation with an assistant referee, Escobedo gave the Impact a corner kick.
Asked about his thoughts on the decision, Henry said: “I’m not talking about the referee.”
“Of course it’s frustrating but it goes by so fast. We don’t really have time to think about it during the game,” said Taider. “We gotta try refocus one moment later to try and score the second goal. They are refereeing decisions that we need to respect. It’s part of football.”
For Samuel Piette, the team did lose ground to Olimpia in the opening leg but feels that his team is confident heading to the return leg.
“Nothing is over, we still have a return leg with 90 minutes to play,” Piette said. “Yes, it’s our first loss in 2020 but we ended the game like we wanted to. I think that we sent Olimpia a message that we’ll be giving them a hard time over there.
Olimpia will host the Impact in San Pedro Sula, on neutral ground, instead of their hometown of Tegucigalpa. Olimpia head coach Pedro Troglio admitted that it wasn’t a bad thing for his team after all.
“We think that to change sites is an advantage,” Troglio said through an interpreter. “The weather is hotter and more humid so it might be more difficult to play in San Pedro than in Tegucigalpa.”