Match report: Impact beats Toronto FC 2-1 in home opener
MONTREAL – The Impact extends its unbeaten streak to start the season to three games, beating Toronto FC in its home opener 2-1 on Saturday, in front of 37,896 spectators at Olympic Stadium. Midfielder Patrice Bernier and forward Marco Di Vaio both scored their first goals of the season.
The Impact scored its first goal of the season in the 34th minute when midfielder Andres Romero was taken down in the box, setting up another Patrice Bernier penalty kick. Bernier made no mistake, using his stutter step to beat goalkeeper Joe Bendik to his left. Bernier now is 7 for 7 in his career in MLS from the spot, finding the back of the net in his 30th career game in MLS.
Impact forward Marco Di Vaio then doubled the lead in the 45th minute - the culmination of two superb passes. Bernier played a through ball right down midfield from the defensive side of the centre circle that found Davy Arnaud, who became the first Impact player ever to surpass the career 3,000 minutes played mark in MLS with the club. The Impact captain then played a quick through ball to Di Vaio, who made a run behind the TFC defence towards Arnaud’s right. The Impact’s DP pushed the ball past Bendik, before roofing his shot into an empty goal.
Toronto then reduced the lead to one goal in the 68th minute when forward Robert Earnshaw converted a penalty kick of his own, going low to Perkins left.
“We had a good first half, but suffered a little in the second half,” Impact head coach Marco Schällibaum. “We knew Toronto was a good team and it was not going to be an easy game. We had to make some adjustments in the first half after Alessandro Nesta got hurt and put us off balance for a little while. Then we scored two important goals and we played well. The second half, we suffered, but we fought to the end.”
“The first half went well. If we kept the same tempo, we could have probably scored another goal but we let them back in the game with a few mistakes,” said Bernier. “They put a lot of effort in the second half and they got a penalty that brought them back in. But we are happy that we got the three points.”
“At the end of the day, I don’t care how we win. It’s three points and it’’ against Toronto,” said Perkins. “It’s been good. I’ve really tried to focus on having a good performance and not worry too much about the results. I think we have to keep moving forward in that manner. We have to focus on the performance, and not worry about the results.”
In the game’s first few minutes, Di Vaio came close to scoring the opening goal when a long cross field ball was played deep down left flank to Andres Romero. The Argentinean, making his first career start in MLS, played a header back towards the top of the box where Di Vaio hammered a one-time shot with the outside of his foot that forced TFC keeper Joe Bendik into a huge save as the ball threatened to dip underneath the bar at the far post.
The Impact had to make an early change as defender Dennis Iapichino came in for Alessandro Nesta, who was forced to leave the game with an injury in the 12th minute.
In the 43rd minute, a tic-tac-toe exchange between midfielders Felipe, Andrea Pisanu and Davy Arnaud down the left flank resulted in a cross that curled behind the TFC defence towards Di Vaio, but he could not get enough on the ball as he slid towards goal near the six-yard line.
Toronto managed some pressure in the early going of the second half. In the 50th minute, midfielder Hogan Ephraim fired one off the cross bar after he half-volleyed a loose ball at the top of the box. Two minutes later, Earnshaw found a ball inside the half circle of the 18-yard-box, but his low, driving shot was stopped by Perkins, diving to his left, far post.
The Impact will host the New York Red Bulls next Saturday, this Saturday, March 23, at 4:30pm (ET) in its second and final matchup of the season at Olympic Stadium.
Then, the team hits the road to face Sporting Kansas City at the newly renamed Sporting Park, in Kansas City, on March 30, at 8:30 pm (ET).
MTL – GK-Troy Perkins; D-Jeb Brovsky, Matteo Ferrari, Alessandro Nesta (Dennis Iapichino 12’), Hassoun Camara; M- Patrice Bernier, Andrés Romero (Sanna Nyassi 85’), Felipe, Davy Arnaud, Andrea Pisanu (Collen Warner 72’); F-Marco Di Vaio
Unused subs: GK-Evan Bush; M- Calum Mallace, Wandrille Lefevre; F-Andrew Wenger
TOR – GK-Joseph Bendik; D- Richard Eckersley, Danny Califf (Jonathan Osorio 84’), Darren O’Dea, Astone Morgan (Darel Russell 65’); M-John Bostock, Terry Dunfield, Jeremy Hall (Kyle Bekker 60’), Reggie Lambe; F-Robert Earnshaw, Hogan Ephraim
Unused subs: G-Stefan Frei; D-Gale Agbossoumonde; F-Justin Braun, Andrew Wiedeman
MTL – Bernier (PK) 34’
MTL – Di Vaio (Arnaud, Bernier) 46’
TOR – Earnshaw (PEN) 68’
TOR – Hall 21’
MTL – Bernier 64’
MTL – Iapichino 67’
TOR – Eckersley 92’