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Whitecaps thrash Espana in CONCACAF Champions League

Whitecaps thrash Espana in CONCACAF Champions League

March 9, 2023 (AFP)

The Vancouver Whitecaps all but assured themselves of a place in the CONCACAF Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday, thrashing Real Espana of Honduras 5-0 in their round of 16 first-leg game.

The Major League Soccer side – who qualified for the continental competition by virtue of winning the Canadian Championship – dominated from the outset to take a commanding lead ahead of next week's return fixture in San Pedro Sula.

Defender Tristan Blackmon opened the scoring for the Canadians, heading home an inviting cross from a well-worked corner routine after 21 minutes.

The floodgates opened after halftime, with Ryan Raposo breaking down the left flank and cutting in before beating Real goalkeeper Luis Lopez with a low shot for 2-0 in the 59th minute.

An own goal from Real's Devron Garcia made it 3-0 five minutes later before Pedro Vite put Vancouver 4-0 up in the 70th minute with a low finish after deft interplay split the Real Espana defence.

Striker Brian White completed the scoring 13 minutes from time, surging down the left wing before jinking inside to beat Lopez with another low shot.

The victory was a welcome respite for Vancouver, who have lost both of their opening games of the 2023 Major League Soccer season.

The Whitecaps have played in the tournament – the top club competition for teams from Central America, North America and the Caribbean – twice before, falling at the group stage in 2016 and reaching the semi-finals in 2017.

In other games on Wednesday, Honduran side Olimpia – winners of the tournament in 1972 and 1988 – are firmly on course for the last eight after thumping Mexico’s Atlas FC 4-1 at home.

Another Mexican team, Leon, fared better in their last-16 clash with Panama’s Tauro, winning 1-0 in Panama City.

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