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MLS Playoffs

Impact hold on to win thrilling first leg over Toronto FC

Photo by Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Photo by Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

While the Montreal Impact got the result they hoped for at home in leg one, they didn’t make it easy on themselves.

After leaping out to a 3-0 lead, the Impact conceded a pair of away goals late in a 3-2 win over Toronto FC. The pair of late goals keep TFC alive heading into the second leg at BMO Field.

Though slated to start at 8 p.m. ET, the first match of the Eastern Conference finals was amazingly delayed by over half an hour as the referees realized the 18-yard box was too short in width by several yards on each side. After a quick repair job with green tape and freshly painted lines, the match finally got underway in Canada.

The Impact dominated the first 45 minutes at home, with pacey forward Dominic Oduro blazing past the back four of Toronto FC to get on the end of a through ball from Patrice Bernier before slotting it coolly past Clint Irwin for the early lead just ten minutes in. The Impact would immediately jump on their momentum and double their lead just two minutes later as Matteo Mancosu would continue his stellar form, finishing off an assist from Ignacio Piatti to make it two for the Impact.

It wasn’t all bad for TFC, as they actually had more of the ball and matched the Impact shot-for-shot, but the visitors failed to put a halt to the potent Impact counter-attack. Any time the ball turned over to the hosts, they pressed forward at full force and pace, aggressively attacking the defense of Toronto and limiting their ability to distribute the ball forward to playmakers Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore.

Unfortunately for TFC, the second half would start no better. The Impact would strike again in the 53rd minute, this time through a calculated strike from Ambroise Oyongo. After being fed the ball around mid-field by Bernier, Oyongo dribbled to the top of the box before slotting a left-footed attempt to the bottom-right corner to give the hosts a huge 3-0 advantage.

The visitors refused to go down without a fight, however, as they’d strike back via the red-hot Jozy Altidore. After Tosaint Ricketts put a ball off the post, Giovinco lobbed a short ball towards the six-yard box, and Altidore used his strength to head it into the top-right corner for a vital away goal in the 68th minute.

The news would only get better for TFC. Just minutes after Didier Drogba was welcomed onto the pitch in a standing ovation, Michael Bradley thrust a dagger into the hearts of the Impact faithful. The U.S. Men’s National Team captain joined his countryman on the score sheet just five minutes later, as Bradley finished a lay-off from Ricketts into the bottom-left to cut the deficit to just 3-2.

Despite several further opportunities, neither side could convert their chances, and the match would end with Toronto FC in a 3-2 deficit, but with two vital away goals.

Leg two of the Eastern Conference finals will take place at BMO field at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, November 30th. A 1-0 or 2-1 victory at home would be enough to secure the total comeback for TFC, while the Impact will seek desperately to hold on after letting a 3-0 advantage slip away.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Dominic Oduro started the match as quickly as his own blistering pace. His constant pressure enabled the Impact to limit TFC’s chances early, and eventually allowed the hosts to break through via his goal, before helping set up the second just two minutes later.

MOMENT OF THE MATCH

Oduro’s pacey counter-attack goal set the tone for the first half and enabled the Impact to build just enough of a lead to hang on for a 3-2 victory.

MATCH TO FORGET

The grounds crew. How do those line measurements not get checked prior to kickoff? But seriously, the Toronto FC back line was simply abused, leaving Clint Irwin on an island twice with no way to recover. Oduro and company tortured them for the first hour before the Toronto attack mercifully gave them a break.

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