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Recap: Pajoy, Valdes spark wild finish as Union top Impact

Donovan Ricketts and Jack McInerney

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CHESTER, Pa. – For most of Saturday night’s game at PPL Park, Donovan Ricketts built a wall in front of the Montreal Impact net.

In the final ten minutes though, it crumbled.

Fueled by a dramatic stoppage-time goal from captain Carlos Valdés – off a throw-in from Sheanon Williams – the Philadelphia Union knocked off the Montreal Impact, 2-1, in a game that quickly went from lifeless to chaotic.

The surging Union (6-9-2) have now won three straight league games to move to within one point of the Impact (6-12-3) for eighth place in the Eastern Conference, with three games in hand.

The Union first got on the board in the 82nd minute, breaking a scoreless deadlock thanks to a brilliant piece of effort from super-sub Antoine Hoppenot, who kept the ball alive along the end line. Lionard Pajoy was the beneficiary of the rookie’s hard work, banging home a loose ball right in front of goal.

HIGHLIGHTS: PHI 2, MTL 1

Just seven minutes later, though, the Impact tied the contest at 1-1 after a Patrice Bernier corner kick bounced off Keon Daniel, went into the net and momentarily drained the life out of a sold-out PPL Park.

The last-minute goals struck a stark contrast with the rest of the game, when Ricketts and Union ’keeper Zac MacMath traded big saves while both club’s defenses mostly controlled the action.

FULL LINEUPS AND BOX SCORE

Montreal and Philadelphia registered only one shot on goal apiece in what was a sleepy and choppy first half that featured more turnovers than creative plays.

However, the Impact made a push to score in the 35th minute but MacMath made a huge save on Marco Di Vaio and then defender Gabriel Farfan thwarted a rebound attempt by Davy Arnaud.

Two minutes later, ex-Union midfielder Justin Mapp made a nice service to Felipe Martins, whose header pinged off the crossbar. Mapp – who was playing his first game at PPL Park since he played for Philly in 2011 and part of 2010 – also had a good scoring chance in the 25th minute but his shot went wide.

The Union generated more offense in the second half, but Ricketts was equal to all of it, making a great diving save on Jack McInerney in the 55th minute and a double save on Farfan and Pajoy in the 79th.

Six minutes later, it looked like McInerney nearly drew a penalty kick after colliding with Hassoun Camara in the box. Instead, he was shown a yellow card for diving.

It wasn't all one-way traffic, though, as MacMath denied Di Vaio one-on-one for a second time when he managed to turn the Italian's effort just wide of his 

OPTA Chalkboard: Late goals break defensive deadlock

But then the Union, who return to action Wednesday in a friendly against Aston Villa, finally broke loose. And the Impact, who host New England on Wednesday, left Chester without any points.

Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at djzeitlin@gmail.com.

MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match

Rank Player What We Saw
1 Amobi Okugo The youngster has been a revelation at the back and kept up his solid play this evening, foiling the Impact attack at every turn.
2 Carlos Valdes Okugo's partner in crime was no slouch either and his winning goal was just reward for 90 minutes of solid play.
3 Antoine Hoppenot Another one of Philly's revelations, the Frenchman was a sparkplug off the bench, his phenomenal run providing the setup for Pajoy's goal.