I watched Mason Toye practise that finish time and time again during pre-season training. It was like being taken back there just a few short weeks ago, as he opened his body to meet Brault-Guillard’s pass and arc a wonderful finish well beyond the reach of Alex Bono.
Forget about finding range. Toye was bang-on from play one! And his troubled start as a Montreal player began to evaporate right there, right then.
It was the right move by Nancy putting the former Loon up top from the start. He’s the man on form, the only central striker with a goal in pre-season. The art of scoring, a confidence game in itself, so often reaps dividends by picking the man in form.
And that’s exactly what happened... after only 3 mins in today’s I-91 derby.
Montreal looked like a different team. They began the game on the front foot looking assured. It’s not time to get carried away, of course, and must be remembered this was an understrength Toronto FC with a couple of youngsters experiencing a difficult afternoon.
One of those, Luke Singh, a Trinadadian u20 international took a harsh lesson from Romell Quioto on 24 mins. The mop-haired central defender, one of the successes in TFC’s Wednesday win over Club Leon, was simply schooled by the Honduran when left one on one.
Quioto turned on the burners, leant into and bullied his way beyond the less experienced Toronto man before rifling past Bono who will be disappointed with his own failure to cover the near post. 2-0!
Long-suffering Montreal fans must have been feeling cock-a-hoop, but their air of intoxication was temporarily punctured as the game approached half-time. The quarter-hour period before the interval proved the Impact’s most porous period in terms of goals last season and the trend was maintained this afternoon.
Toronto left-back Auro won and took a penalty, drawing a foul from Waterman who found himself in a tangle. Auro’s kick lacked both power and precision. Diop was down awaiting the ball before it arrived. But he had moved. A re-take.
Auro lost the job. This time Mark Delgado stepped up and sent Diop the wrong way.
Post-match, Wilfried Nancy declared his half-time message to the Montreal troupe was to remain composed. He needn’t have worried, they did, and lessened his anxiety in the 54th minute. Kizza’s corner was met by an almighty Wanyama leap at the far post. Bradley was caught flat-footed beneath, the Kenyan’s desire much the greater, as he planted a firm downward header into the net.
The former Spurs man took great delight in acknowledging the part played by the young Ugandan, running across to Kizza at the corner-flag to continue the celebrations.
A fourth followed on 71 mins as Toronto struggled for creativity or even to sustain a foothold on the game. Djordje Mihailovic, arguably Montreal’s star-performer in a display containing several, cleverly outwitted Toronto’s centre-backs, teased Bono, and after the ‘keeper made his move slammed the ball home with aplomb.
It was a tremendous display of composure by the 22-year-old, who effortlessly found acres of space throughout the afternoon. He even kissed the snowflake in delight.
Hurtado and the excellent Brault-Guillard featured prominently in the goal’s early production, although Mihailovic still had plenty to do before increasing the margin to three.
The excellent Richie Laryea, what a loss he will be to Toronto should he make the move to Europe as seems likely, added some respectability to the scoreline for the Reds with two minutes of regulation time remaining; a well-taken goal by the talented Canadian international.
It was too little, too late however. Montreal had scored four times on opening day for the first-time ever, and in so doing completed a hat-trick of first-day victories.
But this time it felt different, more comprehensive and perhaps indicative of positive things to come. More so even than the previous two combined.
CFM - Diop - Brault-Guillard, Waterman, Camacho, Miller, Kizza (Struna, 79) - Wanyama, Piette, Mihailovic (Sejdic, 79) - Toye (Hurtado, 57), Quioto (Johnsen, 69)
Subs not used: James Pantemis, Zorhan Bassong, Clement Bayiha, Emanuel Maciel, Joaquin Torres.
Toronto FC - Bono - Laryea, Gonzalez, Singh, Auro - Bradley, Priso (Fraser, 59) - Delgado (Marshall-Rutty, 75), Okello (DeLeon 46), Schaffelburg (Morrow, 59) - Mullins (Peruzza, 46)
Subs not used: Quentin Westberg, Eriq Zavaleta, Tsubasa Endoh, Griffin Dorsey.
Match Officials -
Referee: Ismail Elfath
Asst Refs: Corey Parker, Jason White
4th Official: Marcos de Oliveira
VAR: Alan Kelly
Asst VAR: Craig Lowry.
Check out the latest, The Ball Is Round Podcast (Episode 25). Recorded Wednesday evening (14 April), the TBIR team discusses the CFM v TFC clash (with special guest Michael Singh of Waking The Red website, Montreal football issues of the week, their top three picks for per Conference, Concacaf Champions League & Canada’s WNT in the UK...
Plus all the usual favourite features... including, Eve’s Time Machine... Don’t miss it!
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