Draws reign as champions clash

The first four clashes of the 2008 CONCACAF Champions Cup quarter-finals produced only one winner as Cancun-based Mexican side Atlante beat Deportivo Saprissa on Thursday night.

Walter Centeno put the Costa Rican giants into the lead on 25 minutes, but Gabriel Pereyra equalised for Atlante just six minutes before the interval. They then went on to put the first leg result in their pocket when Christian Bermudez knocked home a Mauricio Romero cross in the 71st minute.

Earlier in the week, six other quarter-finalists from the region were in action. But none of the three games produced a winner as the cautious approach prevailed.

First, on Tuesday night, Mexican giants and 2007 FIFA Club World Cup participants Pachuca opened their account with a drab goalless draw in Honduras against CD Motagua. The result leaves the Mexicans in the driving seat ahead of their return leg next week when they head back to Hidalgo.

Two games were played on Wednesday, the first being another nil-nil draw between Guatemalan side CSD Municipal and two-time defending American (MLS) champions Houston Dynamo in Guatemala City. The result will be a boost for the Texans as they are still in their close season and will fancy their chances in the second leg next week at their Robertson Stadium.

The other Wednesday first-leg saw Caribbean champions Harbour View of Jamaica roar back from a goal down to draw 1-1 with DC United of Major League Soccer. The white-and-black side from the US capital took a lead in first-half stoppage time when Marcelo Gallardo laid the ball on for Devon McTavish, who made no mistake from close range. With the clock ticking well over 90 minutes, and United thinking they had done enough, the home side sprang to life and scored an equaliser through Lovell Palmer. He hammered home from a corner kick with just seconds remaining.

The quarter-final second legs will take place next week with a pure aggregate format in place, meaning goals scored at home count the same as those scored away.

The CONCACAF Champions Cup is the longest-running continental club competition in the region, having named a North, Central American and Caribbean champion every year since 1962. Next year the tournament will be played under a new format and re-named the CONCACAF Champions League.

Quarter-final second legs:
18 March 2008
DC United-Harbour View

19 March 2008
Pachuca-CD Motagua
Houston Dynamo-CSD Municipal

20 March 2008
Deportivo Saprissa-Atlante