Second leg to be played next Wednesday in Calgary
MONTREAL – The Montreal Impact defeated Cavalry FC 2-1, Wednesday night at Stade Saputo, in the first leg of the Canadian Championship semifinals. Nacho Piatti opened the scoring in the first half and added another four minutes into the second, becoming the all-time Impact top goal scorer, before forward Sergio Camargo cut the lead in half for the Calgary representatives in the 69th minute.
“Winning is always important,” said Impact head coach Rémi Garde. “Of course, we are only at half-time in this matchup. We’ll have to go to the Cavalry’s place and it will be a different game. Today, it’s too bad, we have regrets as we conceded a goal and we did not score the third one. The win reflects our performance, but we’ll have to be strong and good offensively over there as well.”
Montreal got its first real opportunity in the 10th minute, when a well-struck corner by Nacho Piatti found tall centre-back Zakaria Diallo in the box, but the Frenchman was unable to get his header on target.
Three minutes later, striker Maxi Urruti dribbled past his man and shot from outside the box, forcing goalkeeper Marco Carducci to make an awkward save as the ball bounced right in front of him.
The visitors got a chance of their own off a corner near the quarter-hour mark, but José Escalante’s ensuing header trickled across the small box and out of play.
In the 21st minute, full-back Bacary Sagna almost found Nacho Piatti in behind the defense, but the Argentine wasn’t able to get there in time, and Carducci stifled the danger.
It was Nacho Piatti who finally managed the breakthrough for the Impact in the 32nd minute. After Urruti poked the ball away in the final third following some sustained pressure, Nacho took off, making his way past his defender before finding the roof of the net with a well-placed shot.
“We studied this team well before the game,” said goalkeeper James Pantemis. “We knew they were dominant in aerial duels and on set pieces. We were prepared for that. We started the game well and we had a good second half. It’s too bad we conceded, but they didn’t manage to pressure us much throughout the game.”
Piatti adds another
Montreal picked up the pressure upon returning from the locker rooms, and it ended up paying off soon after, in the 49th minute. After Clément Bayiha gained possession near the top of the box, he immediately passed to Bacary Sagna, on his right. The French full-back slotted it across goal on his first touch, finding Nacho Piatti, who easily tapped it into an empty net to double the lead.
Piatti’s second of the night brings his total to 78 goals all-time with the Impact through all competitions, officially passing Mauro Biello for first in the club’s record books. He also surpasses Jack Mclnerney for most goals in the Canadian Championship with the Impact, having now five in the national competition.
Nacho almost completed his hat-trick three minutes later, when Lassi Lappalainen got in some space down the left flank. The Finn ran into the box and fed Nacho, wide open in front of the ‘keeper, but the Argentine’s strike lacked precision and missed just wide.
The visitors did manage to pull one back in the 69th minute, when Dominique Malonga found Sergio Camargo with space in the box. Camargo was able to sidestep his defender and find the top corner, cutting the lead in half.
Piatti got one last chance to complete his hat-trick in second -half stoppage time, receiving a clearance off a corner near the top of the box and unleashing a shot towards the top corner, but the opposing goalkeeper was able to dive and get his fingertips on it.
“I think we managed the game well until we conceded that goal,” said midfielder Samuel Piette. “We should’ve scored that third goal before they scored theirs. I think we were missing a little desire at the end to score that third goal that would have made us more comfortable for the return leg.”
The Impact continues a very busy sequence as of this Saturday at 9pm EDT, when it visits the Chicago Fire at Seatgeek Stadium (TVA Sports 2, 98,5, TSN 690). Montreal will then head to Calgary for the return leg of the Canadian Championship semifinals against Cavalry FC on Wednesday, August 14 at 9:30pm EDT at Spruce Meadows, before returning to Stade Saputo on Saturday, August 17 to host FC Dallas (TICKETS – TVA Sports).
MTL – G-James Pantemis; D-Jukka Raitala, Rudy Camacho, Zakaria Diallo, Bacary Sagna; M-Lassi Lappalainen (Saphir Taïder 79’), Samuel Piette, Ken Krolicki, Clément Bayiha (Orji Okwonkwo 70’); F-Nacho Piatti, Maximiliano Urruti
Unused subs: Clément Diop, Daniel Lovitz, Zachary Brault-Guillard, Mathieu Choinière, Anthony Jackson-Hamel
CGY – G-Marco Carducci; D-Dominick Zator, Jonathan Wheeldon, Mason Trafford; M-Julian Büscher, Nathan Mavila, Nico Pasquotti, Nikolas Ledgerwood; F-Jordan Brown (Dominique Malonga 61’), José Escalante (Mauro Eustaquio 73’), Sergio Camargo (Oliver 80’)
Unused subs: Nikolas Giantsopoulos, Carlos Patino, Elijah Adekugbe, Malyk Hamilton
MTL – Nacho Piatti 32’ (Urruti)
MTL – Nacho Piatti 49’ (Sagna, Bayiha)
CGY – Sergio Camargo 69’ (Malonga)
MTL – Ken Krolicki 34’
CGY – Nikolas Ledgerwood 56’
MTL – Orji Okwonkwo
CGY – Nikolas Ledgerwood 71’