SAN PEDRO SULA, HONDURAS – Vancouver Whitecaps FC progressed to the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals despite falling 3-2 against Real CD España on Wednesday night at the Estadio Olímpico Metropolitano in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, claiming a commanding 7-3 aggregate victory across two legs.
'Caps goalkeeper Thomas Hasal was called into action early on, as he dove to his left to prevent España defender Mayron Flores' headed effort from finding the bottom corner in the fourth minute.
Just four minutes later, the 'Caps came close to opening the scoring. Cristian Dájome nutmegged an España defender and played Pedro Vite in on goal, who created an angle for himself to shoot but rattled his curling strike off the post, keeping the match scoreless.
The 'Caps would get the next big chance of the match in the 23rd minute, as Vite's deflected free kick found its way into the path of Sergio Córdova. The Venezuelan directed the ball towards goal but it was cleared off the line by Flores and bounced off Ali Ahmed's knee just wide of the España goal.
Hasal made another crucial save a minute later, once again denying España from finding a goal by saving Getsel Montes' headed attempt.
Right before the halftime interval, España forward José Reyes unleashed a powerful strike inside the box towards the far post, but Hasal once again came up with the save to keep the home side off the scoreboard.
Fast forward to the 66th minute, the 'Caps would grab the opening goal of the match. Javain Brown won the ball in the final third and squared it to Brian White at the top of the box, who fired in his second Champions League goal of the season to give Vancouver the 1-0 lead. The goal gave the 'Caps a 6-0 aggregate lead in the tie.
A minute later, España found an equalizer as Montes found a loose ball in the area and put it in the net to tie the match at 1-1.
Shortly after, Jhow Benavídez played an España corner kick to the back post, with substitute Ramiro Rocca bringing the ball down and powering his shot into the top corner past Hasal to give the home side the lead in the match. However, the 'Caps continued to lead the aggregate score by a combined score of 6-2.
In the 83rd minute, Sebastian Berhalter played a ball over the top of the España defence to Simon Becher, who dribbled past a defender, carried the ball into the box and unleashed an effort to the near post past España goalkeeper Luis López to make it 2-2.
España would grab the 3-2 lead moments later as Montes got on the end of another Benavídez corner, powering his header into the bottom corner to make it 7-3 to the 'Caps on aggregate.
The 'Caps would close out the match and prevent España from getting any more chances on goal.
Vancouver will now face the winner between 2022 MLS Cup champions Los Angeles FC and Costa Rican side L.D. Alajuelense in the quarterfinals, marking the second time in their history they reach this stage of the tournament.
- Ali Ahmed, J.C. Ngando, and Karifa Yao made their first competitive starts for the Whitecaps FC first team.
- Yao, Vasco Fry, and Matteo Campagna made their Whitecaps FC first team debuts.
- Brian White scored his second goal of the 2023 Concacaf Champions League, one back of current leader Denis Bouanga of LAFC.
- Simon Becher has now scored two goals in two substitute appearances off the bench for the Whitecaps FC first team.
- With his assist on Becher's goal, Sebastian Berhalter recorded his first goal contribution for Whitecaps FC.
Referee: Marco Antonio Ortiz Nava
66’ – VAN – Brian White (Javain Brown)
67’ – RES – Getsel Montes
75' – RES – Ramiro Rocca (Jhow Benavídez)
83' – VAN – Simon Becher (Sebastian Berhalter)
86' – RES – Getsel Montes (Jhow Benavídez)
Possession: RES 65.1% – VAN 34.9%
Shots: RES 23 – VAN 14
Shots on Goal: RES 11 – VAN 7
Saves: RES 5 – VAN 8
Fouls: RES 13 – VAN 17
Offsides: RES 4 – VAN 0
Corners: RES 9 – VAN 0
44’ – VAN – Ryan Raposo
60’ – VAN – Cristian Dájome
64' – VAN – J.C. Ngando
69' – VAN – Ali Ahmed
78' – VAN – Javain Brown
79' – RES – Ramiro Rocca
85' – VAN – Tristan Blackmon
Real C.D. España
22.Luis López, 4.Mayron Flores, 2.Getsel Montes, 6.Devron García, 5.Franklin Flores; 28.Carlos Mejía, 10.Jhow Benavídez, 39.Exon Arzú (20.Daniel Carter Bodden 55'); 17.Pedro Báez (19.Ramiro Rocca 54'), 7.José Reyes (36.Roberto Osorto 73'), 11.Darixon Vuelto (25.Maikel García 37')
Substitutes not used
1.Michael Perelló, 23.Juan Vieyra, 26.Marco Aceituno, 27.Gerson Chávez, 44.Anfronit Tatum, 48.Aaron Zúñiga, 50.Junior García, 55.Eduardo Urbina
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.Thomas Hasal; 2.Mathías Laborda, 12.Karifa Yao, 6.Tristan Blackmon (61.Matteo Campagna 87'), 27.Ryan Raposo (23.Javain Brown HT); 26.J.C. Ngando, 16.Sebastian Berhalter, 22.Ali Ahmed; 11.Cristian Dájome © (24.Brian White 61'), 45.Pedro Vite (52.Vasco Fry 77'); 9.Sergio Córdova (29.Simon Becher 76')
Substitutes not used
18.Yohei Takaoka, 32.Isaac Boehmer, 28.Levonte Johnson, 30.Kamron Habibullah, 31.Russell Teibert