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Why Dario Benedetto Was Key to America's Success in CONCACAF Champions League

Karla Villegas Gama@karlitsvFeatured ColumnistApril 30, 2015

Club America forward Dario Benedetto, center, celebrates after scoring his third goal of the match against the Montreal Impact during the second half of the CONCACAF Champions League final game, Wednesday, April 29, 2015, in Montreal. Club America won 4-2. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Julio Cortez/Associated Press

Dario Benedetto was the man of the match in the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League final, but his performance is no surprise.

The Argentine arrived in Mexico for the 2013 Apertura tournament. He had played for Arsenal de Sarandi, Defensa y Justicia and Gimnasia de Jujuy, all from his country, before joining Tijuana.

Benedetto was instrumental for Xolos from his very first season in Mexican football.

He bagged a hat-trick in his first match, against Atlas, which helped his side secure a three-goal draw. In that tournament, he put the ball away five times.

But he was just getting started, and in the 2014 Clausura, he finished the season with seven goals to his count and one assist.

His numbers continue to improve in the 2014 Apertura after netting nine times and recording three assists.

Benedetto's impressive performances sent him straight to America, the champion of the Liga MX and one of the strongest clubs in CONCACAF.

He secured a spot in Gustavo Matosas' starting XI by Week 1. In that game, he assisted Oribe Peralta for Las Aguilas' second.

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It took him a month to start scoring with his new team, and he did it in successive matches: against Tigres (winning goal), Morelia, Chiapas and UNAM (winning goal).

Along came the CONCACAF Champions League, and that competition would become the perfect scenario for Benedetto to prove that he was the best transfer of the summer draft.

The Argentine scored seven times, and all of those goals came in key moments, which eventually helped the Mexican club hoist the winner's trophy.

Benedetto missed the group stage and the quarterfinals, but he made his debut in the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals.

The footballer netted four times against Herediano in the second leg held at the Estadio Azteca. His goals were instrumental for America because they lost 3-0 in Costa Rica.

Club América @ClubAmerica

Ve las mejores imágenes del festejo de nuestras Águilas tras el Campeonato en @TheChampions →http://t.co/rD1yN9wbiP http://t.co/9BPE6jxDBa

Ultimately, Las Aguilas won 6-3 in the aggregate score, and Benedetto tied the record for most goals in a single game of the CONCACAF Champions League. 

Something very similar happened in the final showdown. America and Montreal left the Azteca with a one-goal draw.

But once again, Benedetto served as the hero.

He put the ball away three times at the Olympic Stadium in America's 4-2 win over the MLS side.

This is his first title with Las Aguilas, but he is also aiming to grab the Liga MX title. So far, his club is inside the Liguilla qualification zone.

The 24-year-old has fantastic ball control. His technique and fine touch are undeniable. Benedetto can shoot with both legs but also has a strong aerial game.

He is lethal when he runs through the center of the pitch, where he can create or finish plays with the same ease.

America signed other top players during the summer draft, but they haven’t had the same impact for the team as Benedetto.

Darwin Quintero, for instance, only put the ball away once in the CONCACAF Champions League and once more in the 2015 Clausura. Meanwhile, Cristian Pellerano has missed several games due to injury.

Benedetto and Oribe Peralta have teamed up to form a mean partnership, so it's no wonder why they shared the Golden Boot honors in the continental competition and the Argentine was named MVP.

All stats appear courtesy of CONCACAF and MedioTiempo.com, unless otherwise noted. 

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