[CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] Once every few years, soccer surpasses the limits and boundaries of rationale, and skews into the seemingly impossible. It happened
again Thursday in Torreon, Mexico, just as it did six years ago in San Jose, when the original MLS Quakes rallied from a 4-0 aggregate deficit to beat Los Angeles, 5-4, in the MLS playoffs. By the
same aggregate, and a similar scenario, Santos Laguna overturned a 4-1 deficit.
Trailing 2-1 at home at halftime, Santos scored the four goals it needed, including two in stoppage time, to win 5-2 and upend the USL's Montreal Impact, 5-4 on aggregate and advance to the Concacaf Champions League semifinals against Atlante.
Carlos Quintero scored three and four minutes into stoppage time against an exhausted Impact team that, after going down 1-0 to a Christian Benitez goal in the 16th minute, had struck twice in the first half through Roberto Brown and Eduardo Sebrango. Up 4-1 on aggregate, and 2-0 on away goals, Montreal's lead appeared unassailable at halftime.
Instead, Matias Vuoso struck in the 54th minute to tie the game, 2-2, and narrow the aggregate to 4-2, but with Montreal holding those two away goals - the tiebreaker in case of equal total goals - Santos still need three more in regulation.
It got them amid sheer delirium in the Estadio Corona. A minute after Vuoso scored, Quintero hit the post, and in the 71st minute he put the ball in the net but an offside call nullified the play. Fatigue, though, had slowed the Impact pace to a crawl, and Santos kept up its incessant pressure.
Three minutes later, yet another attack yielded a third Santos goal. Quintero played the ball to Walter Jimenez -- whose crisp passing contributed to four of the five Santos goals -- and he relayed it to Vuoso, who banged a shot past Impact keeper Matt Jordan.
The tiring Impact players defended desperately and several times hacked balls out of danger, but nobody had the legs to dribble or hold the ball for more than a few seconds. The pressure from Santos never relented, and in third minute of added time, Quintero tucked away a pass knocked back across the goalmouth by Jimenez from a deep ball to the far post.
From the kickoff, Santos swept right back into the Montreal penalty area. Impact forward Felix Brilliant escaped sanction when he flattened an opponent while winning a head ball, but a few seconds later, a through ball stranded a quartet of defenders square, and Quintero pounced to shoot low past Jordan.
Quintero raced to the corner flag to celebrate, draped by teammates as bedlam broke out on the field and in the stands. The Impact players barely had the strength or spirit to kick off, and a few seconds later the final whistle ended their misery and a most courageous run in this competition
VIDEO highlights of the seven goals.