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Montreal, Puerto Rico surprise in debuts
CONCACAF Champions League starts off well for USL-1 sides

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

TAMPA, FL -- In their CONCACAF Champions League debuts, the Montreal Impact and Puerto Rico Islanders opened eyes with surprising results. The Impact were 1-0 victors at home against Real Esteli and Puerto Rico posted a stunning 1-1 draw against recent CONCACAF Champions Cup winners Alajuelense.

The results left the two USL First Division sides unbeaten on the night against favored competition despite their first-ever forays into CONCACAF's club championship competition.

Montreal tops Nicaraguan champs

The Montreal Impact shut out the Real Estelí, the Nicaraguan champion club 1-0 (halftime 1-0), Wednesday at Saputo Stadium, in its first game of the CONCACAF Champions League.

Gjertsen provided Montreal's 1-0 first leg winner (Pepe)Impact midfielder Joey Gjertsen scored the winning goal at the 42nd minute. Gjertsen took advantage of a ball poorly cleared by the Real Esteli defense and took a volley shot of about 18 meters that beat Real Esteli goalkeeper Érick Aleman to his right.

“We won this game by putting pressure on the Real Esteli,” said Impact head coach John Limniatis. To beat us, they will now need to score three goals during the return game. This win gives us the latitude either to make a tie over there or score to take a more comfortable lead. Even though we didn’t play well tonight, we were nevertheless a better team on the field.”

“From a player’s perspective, we didn’t play our best game because I think we were a little bit nervous,” said veteran defender Nevio Pizzolitto. “In the first half, we played well but in the second half, we let the forwards advance. Lacking concentration, we almost allowed a goal, which is unacceptable at home. The important thing today is the win and we are going to Honduras with the desire to win the series.”

The Impact dominated the Real Estelí 24-14 in shots on goal. Impact goalkeeper Matt Jordan registered the shutout for the Impact.

For the ninth time this season, the Impact game was sold out Wednesday, all 13,034 available tickets having been sold.

The second game to move to the group phase will be played Tuesday, September 2 at Carlos Miranda Stadium, in Comayagua, Honduras, since no stadium in Nicaragua met FIFA standards. The game will start at 10 pm (Eastern Time) and will be one-hour tape delayed (11 pm) on Radio-Canada Television.

23rd minute – Leonardo Di Lorenzo centered the ball on the left wing in the box towards Roberto Brown, who took a header that sailed above the Real Estelí goal.

24th minute – After defeating two Real Estelí defenders, midfielder Joey Gjertsen took a low shot of about 10 meters, but the ball was collected by the Nicaraguan goalkeeper Érick Aleman, with a dive to his right.

75th minute –Real Estelí midfielder Samuel Wilson fired a 20-meter shot that was deflected by an Impact defender just above the crossbar.

82nd minute – Midfielder David Testo took a cross shot on the left wing that was deflected on a Real Estelí defender, which was then stopped by Aleman with a dive to his left.

84th minute – From the penalty box, forward Severino Jefferson took a point blank shot that Aleman stopped by diving to the ground.

Islanders surprise with draw in Costa Rica

In their CONCACAF Champions League Preliminary Round fixture, the Puerto Rico Islanders registered a first leg upset Wednesday night, posting a 1-1 draw on the road in Costa Rica against Alajuelense, a CONCACAF Champions Cup winner just four years ago.

Early chances for Alajuelense kept the Puerto Rico Islanders busy and were representative of the game as a whole as the favored side had the majority of scoring opportunities.

The home side took the lead just before the half hour mark courtesy of Argenis Fernandez, who received the ball at the edge of the box as he was cutting diagonally and pulled the shot back to the near post from 14 yards.

A corner kick in the 64th minute changed the match for the visitors as it fell to an unmarked Osei Telesford. The Trinidad & Tobago international defender coolly put the ball away into the back of the net to put the match back on level terms.

A nice reflex save by Bill Gaudette kept a nice bicycle kick out of the upper corner in the 75th minute.

The hard fought draw was nearly negated in the 90th minute when the Costa Rican runners-up earned a penalty kick, but the shot to the right side was stopped by Gaudette to preserve the equal status heading to the second leg in Puerto Rico next week.

The Islanders joined CD Marathan as the only two teams thus far to post favorable results on the road through the first seven of eight the eight Preliminary Round first leg matches. Marathon of Honduras earned a 2-2 draw in El Salvador against AD Isidro Metapan.

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