Offensive onslaught propels CF Montréal to Champions League series win

Romell Quioto’s goal in the ninth minute launched CF Montréal to a convincing 3-0 victory over Mexican club Santos Laguna Wednesday night at Olympic Stadium.

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This time, the goal counted.


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Romell Quioto’s goal in the ninth minute launched CF Montréal to a convincing 3-0 victory over Mexican club Santos Laguna Wednesday night at Olympic Stadium in the second leg of the aggregate Champions League round of 16 series. CFM advances to the next round of the prestigious tournament by virtue of a 3-1 margin.

Djordje Mihailovic in the 22nd and Ismael Koné in the 61st put the dagger into Santos Laguna, much to the delight of 13,343 spectators — the venue limited to 50 per cent capacity due to COVID-19 health restrictions.

It was Quioto who opened the scoring in the sixth minute of the opening leg, Feb. 15 in Torreón, Mexico, but the goal was disallowed following a controversial foul assessed against Lassi Lappalainen.


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Not only was this match delayed 24 hours due to the freezing rain that struck Montreal on Tuesday, the visitors were without their manager, Pedro Caixinha, who tested positive for COVID and was forced to isolate. He was replaced by his assistant, Rafael Figueroa.

While both clubs made two roster changes to their starting formations, Santos Laguna was missing defender Félix Torres, out with a muscle injury. His absence from him proved significant, as CFM took advantage of a makeshift back-line, almost from the opening whistle.

Veteran French defender Rudy Camacho, meanwhile, made his season debut for CF Montréal, solidifying its back-line. He replaced Italian rookie Gabriele Corbo.

CFM went on the attack immediately. In the opening minute, Lappalainen attempted a cross to Joaquin Torres, signifying the team was attempting on playing off the front foot.


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Quito’s early goal was exactly what CFM required. Mathieu Choinière’s long ball found the Honduran international, who managed to control the pass just before it rolled over the end-line. Quioto then scored from a sharp angle, his sixth goal in 20 Champions League games.

Camacho nearly made it a two-goal advantage in the 15th, his header off a corner going over the bar.

CF Montréal managed to produce an all-important second goal seven minutes later. Quito was instrumental again. From the edge of the area I found Mihailovic, whose left-footed howitzer went just under the bar against helpless goalkeeper Carlos Acevedo.

Although it was a much quieter night for his CFM counterpart, Sebastian Breza, he nonetheless had to be sharp in the 44th, stopping Fernando Gorriaran from a distance — one of the visitors’ few legitimate scoring opportunities in the opening half.


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Just before the teams headed to the intermission, Choinière almost scored a third goal. However, his shot of him from distance ranged off the top of the crossbar.

Any thought CF Montréal would sit on its lead in the second half quickly dissipated, the side continuing its relentless attack.

In the 49th, Mihailovic sat a cross to Quito. He attempted to beat Acevedo from a sharp angle, but the ‘keeper punched the ball away. Four minutes later, Koné was in alone after being fed by Torres. Despite being draped by Hugo Rodriguez, Koné forced Acevedo into making a wonderful save.

Koné, only 19 years old, made no mistake when he converted Mihailovic’s drop pass. Wide open, he buried the opportunity from near the penalty spot, beating Acevedo to the far post.

Veteran striker Kei Kamara, signed as a free agent last Friday by CFM, came off the bench as a substitute in the 74th, replacing Quioto, despite limited practices. Kamara received a rousing ovation from the crowd.

CF Montréal launches its Major League Soccer regular season Sunday afternoon, at Orlando City.

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