The semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League in Orlando were played out on Saturday night, where both matches saw some truly wild occurrences, with both games seeing red cards and some questionable calls.
Tigres UNAL won their match handily 3-0 over CD Olimpia, while LAFC and Club America had an absolute wild match, ending with a 3-1 win for the last MLS team in contention.
Tigres beat Olimpia 3-0 thanks to two Gignac penalties
It was always going to be an uphill task for the Honduran side CD Olimpia to beat the highly favored Tigres, but through most of the first half, they looked to hold their own. However, the game changed on its head in first half stoppage, when a loose ball in the box was cleared off the line by a Deybi Flores handball that resulted in a red card for the Olimpia defender and a André-Pierre Gignac penalty.
Tigres rolled from there, despite not creating too many chances in the second half. Another Gignac penalty and an own goal saw the side from Mexico advance to the CCL Final on Tuesday.
LAFC win a wild one over Club America
By far one of the most entertaining matches of the tournament in Orlando thus far, the last semifinal match had everything. Red cards, missed calls, coaches fighting and late drama.
Sebastián Cáceres started things of for Club America in the 12th minute, scoring a header off a corner. Through the rest of the first half, things got chippy between the two sides as LAFC tried to battle back, and it eventually came to a head right before half. Eduard Atuesta went down in the penalty area after a loose ball was cleared and stayed down. America goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa went to say something to the midfielder, when Atuesta lashed out at Ochoa, causing him to fall to the ground. Two America players then came to shove Atuesta to the ground and caused a mass confrontation. The end result was Atuesta receiving a straight red, meaning LAFC would head to the locker rooms down a man and down a goal.
As the first half ended, America Head Coach Miguel Herrera and an assistant for LAFC got into it as the teams went towards the locker rooms. This prompted Herrera to be shown a red, now unable to coach his team through the second half.
The second half got off to a flying start for LA. Within 20 seconds of the half starting, Carlos Vela pounced on a turnover by Sebastián Cáceres and scored past Ochoa to tie up the match, then just 40 seconds after that, Vela got on a ball chipped over the top and beat Ochoa again to turn the game on its head and put LAFC up 2-1.
The scoreline would hold as LAFC’s defense played incredibly well to see out the result. With seconds left in stoppage time and America pushing forward, LA were able to create a chance through Diego Rossi, but Ochoa was able to save the initial effort. Latif Blessing, the substitute, was able to pounce on the rebound and score the clinching goal, just as the final whistle blew.
“An amazing effort by the guys,” LAFC Head Coach Bob Bradley said after the match. “At halftime we felt that we would still win the game. I didn’t expect that a couple minutes into the second half Carlos would have already scored twice, but the mentality at halftime, the intensity throughout the second half; Just a team effort where commitment and intensity was just awesome.”
Tigres and LAFC will now face off to determine the winner of the CONCACAF Champions League on Tuesday, December 22nd at 10 pm at Exploria Stadium. The match will be broadcast on Fox Sports 2 and TUDN.
For more soccer news, follow the Socer Journal on Twitter: @osjsoccer