MONTREAL — CF Montreal will head into the international break with three crucial points after a 3-1 win over rivals Toronto FC on Friday.
Samuel Piette, Joaquin Torres and Romell Quioto scored for Montreal (7-7-7), while Ifunanyachi Achara replied for Toronto (3-12-6).
Montreal opened the game at a breakneck pace and found its first chance just after the first minute, when Torres' shot grazed the top of the bar.
After five minutes, Toronto midfielder Noble Okello was booked after a high challenge caught Victor Wanyama in the thigh.
Following video review, the yellow card was changed to a straight red and TFC found themselves down a man with 85 minutes to play.
“I’m glad that we were up at halftime, but I feel like we didn’t control the game as well as we could have. We were vulnerable to the counter-attack at times,” said Montreal manager Wilfried Nancy. “I think this is the first time I sat down on the bench before the end of the game. The way we reacted to their equalizer was very impressive.”
The rest of the half was largely one-way traffic as CF Montreal sent wave after wave of attack, racking up 60 per cent possession in the frame.
At the 22-minute mark, Piette found himself at point-blank range but couldn’t convert after his shot was blocked.
The midfielder made up for it less than a minute later when a free kick at the edge of the box from Djordje Mihailovic was stopped and the rebound bounced right to Piette.
This was a result of Piette having more freedom and being able to push further up the field due to the numerical advantage.
“The red card definitely made us change tactics. I played in that role a lot last season so it wasn’t something that foreign to me,” said Piette who scored his first ever goal in front of the Stade Saputo crowd after five years with the club. “I was on a bit of a high after the goal and it felt like I was flying everywhere.”
With a 1-0 lead, Montreal did not let up and spent the rest of the half in Toronto’s end.
Toronto came out with more fight in the second half, creating chances and pushing forward.
At the 58-mnute mark, Yeferson Soteldo was played in behind and squared the ball for Achara, who made no mistake and equalized.
With half an hour left, Bjorn Johnsen made way for Quioto, who hasn’t seen action since his injury in July.
“Romell is Romell. Everyone in the group knows his importance that goes without saying,” said Nancy. “He brings a lot of quality on the field, and he brings passion, aggression, and he energizes the team when he’s on.”
In the 68th minute, Zachary Brault-Guillard played an inch-perfect cross right to the waiting foot of Torres, who launched the ball into the top-left corner.
It was as if the whole of Stade Saputo—along with everyone on the field for CF Montreal—breathed a collective sigh of relief and it showed.
The home side spent the next 10 minutes consolidating possession and looking to put the game out of reach.
Less than 15 minutes after his entrance, Quioto was played in by Mihailovic and calmly placed the ball into the bottom right corner, doubling Montreal’s lead and adding to yet another standout performance from Mihailovic.
“When I get into these dangerous pockets, which I like to do, and that decisive pass doesn’t come off it’s not something that I look down on myself about,” said Mihailovic. “The confidence that the coaching staff and my teammates have in me is very high and they know that I love being the guy that creates.”
Toronto’s next opponent will be the FC Cincinnati on Sept. 11 after the international break while CF Montreal faces Nashville SC that same day
This report by The Canadian Press was first published August 27, 2021.
Elias Grigoriadis, The Canadian Press