After 22 mins of this one, you would never have forecast the Impact going in 2-1 up at the interval. But football’s a funny old game!
Tosaint Ricketts had just reacted quickest to Evan Bush’s save from Yordy Reyna’s spot-kick to bury the rebound and put the Whitecaps into a 2-0 lead. Or so it seemed.
But VAR came to the home side’s rescue, sort of. Ricketts’ encroachment into the area and Bush’s early movement on the line we’re caught on camera with the kick ordered to be retaken. Bush had to face a second battle of wits with the reprieved Reyna. But the Impact ‘keeper again came out on top in which was almost a carbon copy of the first effort, only this time he was able to deflect the ball sidewards and away from goal.
The lift Bush provided his team-mates, courtesy of the sequence, was palpable.
It was Reyna who had given Vancouver the lead in the 17th minute arriving unchecked at the far post to tap home from a Ricketts cross that was helped on by impressive Honduran, Michael Chirinos.
But on 35 mins rejuvenated Impact levelled. Bacary Sagna sent a ball down the right flank for Urruti to chase. The Argentinian did well to get the better of Cornelius and cut inside, placing a ball across goal that was diverted into the net by Doneil Henry, Cornelius’ central defensive partner.
And within 2 mins, Urruti had completely turned the tables putting his side into what seemed an unlikely 2-1 lead with a sweet chest and volley, off a cross by Bacary Sagna.
Urruti and Bush, have had their fair share of detractors at different times this season, not always justified, but they proved, undoubtedly, the main men tonight.
Urruti’s work-rate and endeavour was a feature of the victory, and if he led from the front, Bush provided the inspiration at the opposite end, making several good stops, just like his opposite number in the Vancouver goal, former understudy Max Crepeau.
In a game that was always in the balance right to the final whistle, Vancouver played some neat football and looked dangerous, particularly at the beginning of the second half, when both teams went toe to toe like a pair of defenceless boxers trading chances instead of punches.
The Impact ultimately ground out a result and despite the openness evident throughout much of the evening, there were no more goals in the second-half. Quite how that happened is a mystery. Defences were certainly not on top, although Impact’s walking wounded, central-pairing, of Raitala and Camacho deserve credit for seeing this one through to victory.
Honduran Michaell Chirinos was central to most of the good things the Whitecaps produced and his withdrawal on 76 minutes must have been welcomed by the hosts.
Ricketts and Reyna looked fluid and dangerous too, despite the latter’s penalty failure.
Montreal at times broke effectively and threatened on a few occasions to carve Vancouver up, the best moves generally involving Bojan, Urruti and Lappalainen. Crepeau made a good stop from Bojan on 77 mins, and the Spaniard then set up Lappalainen five minutes later, a position Stade Saputo had seen the Finn score from before, but this time he rolled the ball just the wrong side of Crepeau’s far upright.
A minute previously, Bush made his last major play, diving to punch a long-range free-kick from Adnan away. The Impact custodian this evening, was back to his agile best.
The 14,513 at Stade Saputo saw a battling performance from the Impact and when the chips are down, it often doesn’t matter how you get over the line. It was all about the result for Montreal tonight.
The Whitecaps gave as good as they got throughout, and coach Dos Santos will consider his team’s reaction following a harrowing exercise in San Jose last weekend, a positive one.
Dos Santos was fairly animated after the game, particularly on the subject of the VAR intervention which preceded the disallowing of Ricketts’ goal.
“The game is changing. I fell in love with another game. This game is robotic. One day there’s not going to be players on the field. I think Playstation on TV; it’s going to sell more than the real game. It’s becoming so robotic, it’s incredible.”
Wilmer Cabrera was predictably more upbeat after his first win as Impact coach. The likeable Colombian didn’t agree the success was an unconvincing one, instead, perhaps understandably, he chose to concentrate on the positives.
“I’m proud of the players. I am happy for their mentality and I’m sure if we continue playing this way, we will change the momentum to be more positive.
“They were more convinced to go forward, to pressure, to go higher. And that is important. If you noticed the way we scored is that we were looking to make those passes and to go forward, instead of passing he ball back to our goalkeeper.
“In the second-half against Toronto we passed the ball back to Evan twenty-five times. So, I told them I was embarrassed about that. They should [also] be embarrassed. You can give the goal back to the goalkeeper for sure, but not twenty-five times.”
Montreal can now go above DC United in the standings should they find a way to win against them on Saturday evening at Stade Saputo. Wilmer Cabrera will be looking for the same fortitude from his side this weekend against the Black & Red who will be without suspended talisman, Wayne Rooney.
This could yet end up a mirror reflection of last season when DC United coming from behind in the standings, benefitted from several successive home games, to qualify for post-season soccer.
The Impact will be hoping it’s their turn to do just that in 2019 ...
IMFC - Bush - Sagna, Camacho, Raitala, Lovitz - Okwonkwo (Shome 67), Piette, Taider, Lappalainen - Bojan, Urruti.
VWFC - Crepeau - Nerwinski, Henry, Cornelius, Adnan - Reyna, Erice (c), Chirinos - Teibert, Hwang - Ricketts
Match Officials -
Referee: Ismail Elfath
Assistant Referees: Kyle Atkins, Claudiu Badea
4th Official: Pierre-Luc Lauziere
VAR: Geoff Gamble