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© Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Impact erases two-goal deficit but loses 3-2 against Columbus Crew SC

Last minute penalty cancels out Montreal comeback

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Montreal Impact suffered a cruel loss at MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday afternoon, falling 3-2 on a last-minute goal to the Columbus Crew SC, after erasing a two-goal deficit in the second half. Nacho Piatti and Raheem Edwards levelled the game in the second half for the Bleu-blanc-noir after goals by Federico Higuaín and Gyasi Zardes in the first half, but Zardes converted a penalty in stoppage time to give the hosts the win.

“I thought the effort was fantastic,” said head coach Rémi Garde. “Today, quite a few things went against us and we were a little unlucky because we hit the crossbar twice. We’re progressing, but we need points as of next game.

Montreal engaged to start the game
The Impact started the game on the right foot, dominating the first 10 minutes and coming close to opening the scoring in the eighth minute, but Jeisson Vargas, who was starting his first MLS game, sent his powerful half-volley on the crossbar.

In the 12th minute, Lalas Abubakar was fouled in the Impact’s 18-yard box during a corner. Higuaín subsequently converted the penalty.

Three minutes later, off a set piece, Artur deflected the ball with his head off the crossbar, but the rebound fell to Zardes, and the American doubled his team’s lead by tucking it in from just a few centimetres away.

Montreal took the blow in stride and veered its head, experiencing a few good moments before the break, particularly around the half-hour mark, but Piatti, Taïder and Raitala could not really threaten goalkeeper Zack Steffen.

Advantage Bleu-blanc-noir after the break
The Impact dominated the second half, creating many scoring chances. In the 51st minute, Matteo Mancosu came a few inches away from scoring on a cross from Daniel Lovitz, but he missed the target.

Just before the hour mark, the Bleu-blanc-noir got on the scoreboard. Samuel Piette passed the ball to Piatti on the left wing. The Argentine beat Harrison Afful and his left-footed shot beat Steffen.

Now looking for the equalizer, Montreal continued to increase the pressure on the Columbus Crew SC. Taïder, a few moments after Piatti’s goal, had a great opportunity, but his shot just missed the net to the left. In the 71st minute, Piatti once again beat Afful on the wing and crossed it low to Raheem Edwards, who entered the game a little earlier. The young winger could not adjust his shot and missed the target. Then, five minutes later, Lovitz crossed it again for Mancosu; the Italian forward hit the crossbar. In the 81st minute, following a set piece, Edwards deflected the ball towards Víctor Cabrera a few metres away from goal. The Argentine defender headed the ball towards the bottom corner, but Steffen dove and made the goal line save.

In the 85th minute, the Impact’s efforts were rewarded, when Daniel Lovitz’s cross was hit on the volley by Raheem Edwards’ left foot, finding the back of the net.

“We feel like we deserve at least a point from this game,” said defender Daniel Lovitz. “This is not a game we should have lost. At the end of the day, they won because of two penalties and a goal off a set piece. If you could hold a team like that to those types of chances, usually you come out with at least a tie. We’re disappointed, but I think there’s no question that there are positive things to take out of this game.”

In the end of the game, with four minutes of added time played, the Impact conceded a penalty that was converted by Zardes, giving the Crew the win.

“It’s cruel,” said midfielder Samuel Piette. “We played well in the second half, we were confident in the way we played. We saw that we were much fitter than them and we scored twice from open play. We answered really well, it’s disappointing that we’re not brining any points home after this game. It’s still encouraging for what’s to come.”

Upcoming games
The Impact will play its home opener on Saturday, March 17 at 3pm, against Toronto FC at Olympic Stadium (TVA Sports, CTV, TSN, 98,5fm, TSN Radio 690 – TICKETS), before the international break. Montreal will then be back in action at CenturyLink Field to face the Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday, March 31 at 10pm (TVA Sports, TSN Radio 690).

LINEUPS

MTL – GK-Evan Bush; D-Michael Petrasso, Víctor Cabrera, Jukka Raitala, Daniel Lovitz; M-Samuel Piette, Saphir Taïder, Ken Krolicki, Jeisson Vargas (Raheem Edwards 66’), Ignacio Piatti; F-Matteo Mancosu

Subs not used – Clément Diop, Rod Fanni, Chris Duvall, Louis Béland-Goyette, Dominic Oduro, Marco Donadel

CLB – GK-Zack Steffen; D-Harrison Afful, Jonathan Mensah, Lalas Abubakar, Milton Valenzuela; M-Artur, Cristian Martínez (Luis Argudo 58’), Federico Higuaín, Pedro Santos, Wil Trapp; F-Gyasi Zardes

Subs not used – Logan Ketterer, Alex Crograle, Eduardo Sosa, Héctor Jiménez, Ricardo Clark, Adam Jahn

GOALS
CLB – Higuaín (PEN) 12’
CLB – Zardes 15’
MTL – Piatti (Piette) 59’
MTL - Edwards (Lovitz, Taïder) 85'
CLB - Zardes (PEN) 90' + 4'

CAUTIONS
MTL – Krolicki 32’
CLB – Steffen 51’

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