LEON, Guanajuato – Club Leon took a step toward their first ever Concacaf title with a 2-1 victory over Los Angeles FC in the first leg of the 2023 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Final on Wednesday night at Estadio Leon in Leon, Mexico.
William Tesillo and Angel Mena scored for the hosts, who could have easily had another two or three goals if not for the heroics of LAFC GK John McCarthy, but 2023 SCCL top scorer Denis Bouanga scored his seventh goal of the tournament in second half stoppage time to give LAFC a big momentum boost going into Sunday’s second leg.
Club Leon came roaring out of the gates and nearly got the game’s first goal in the 6’ through Alfonso Alvarado, only to see McCarthy tip the shot wide.
The wait for the home fans would not be long though, as a corner kick swung in by Mena was headed into goal by Tesillo to give Club Leon a 1-0 advantage in the 8’.
Club Leon continued to mount the pressure and almost got a second through Elias Hernandez in the 31’ on a right-footed shot that swung just wide of the post.
The home side kept pushing and were rewarded for their efforts right before halftime when after a VAR review, Mena converted a penalty to make it 2-0 after 45 minutes.
LAFC tried to get a goal back early in the second half, but Club Leon were the ones creating the scoring chances and McCarthy was called into action to deny Mena from point-blank range in the 57’.
Minutes later a cross from Hernandez looked destined for a Mena header into net, but the ball sliced just wide.
McCarthy continued to be a rock in the LAFC goal, making a number of saves to prevent Club Leon from increasing their lead and keeping his side within reach.
Just when it looked like things would end with Club Leon taking a two-goal advantage into the return leg, LAFC struck in the final seconds when a deep cross from Diego Palencia met the in-stride Bouanga, who one-timed a shot into net for a 2-1 final scoreline.