Denis Bouanga’s hat trick lifts LAFC past LD Alajuelense in CONCACAF Champions League

Denis Bouanga had a second-half hat trick to spark LAFC to a 3-0 victory over LD Alajuelense in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League matchup on Thursday night in Alajuela, Costa Rica.

With the aggregate score format determining the winner of the two-game playoff, the reigning MLS Cup champions can advance to the tournament quarterfinals even if they lose by multiple goals when the teams square off again next Wednesday night at BMO Stadium.

Bouanga opened the scoring less than two minutes into the second half when he tapped home a low cross from Ryan Hollingshead at the far post. The Frenchman’s second goal came 22 minutes later on a similar play, with Hollingshead sending another low pass across the front of the goal for Bouanga, who had little trouble converting.

Bouanga capped his night in the final minute of regulation, taking a back-heel pass from Ilie Sánchez and beating Alajuelense keeper Leonel Moreira with a right-footed laser from the left side of the penalty area.

Bouanga, who joined LAFC as a Designated Player in August, nearly scored in the first half as well, banging a left-footed shot off the left post.

LAFC goalkeeper John McCarthy made five saves to record his first shutout since November 2021 while Moreira had nine for the hosts.

LAFC, which made it to the Champions League final in 2020, outshot Alajuelense 25-13 and put 12 of its shots on target.

LAFC resumes MLS play when it hosts the New England Revolution on Sunday night at BMO Stadium.

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