MONTREAL – Montrealers can keep it notoriously late, as the Impact demonstrated on Sunday evening.
Patrice Bernier scored an 89th-minute penalty to snap the team's three-game losing streak and give his hometown club a much-needed 2-1 win over the Columbus Crew at Stade Saputo. Impact right back Zarek Valentin’s first-ever MLS goal had canceled out Milovan Milosevic’s headed opener.
The win was Montreal's first-ever in the MLS era when conceding the opening goal of a game.
Repeated fouling in the initial minutes meant that both teams struggled to find any early rhythm. Referee Matthew Foerster dished out his first yellow card – to Columbus’ Nemanja Vukovic for impeding Sanna Nyassi – in the third minute.
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Columbus did manage some good possession in the first quarter of an hour in the Impact’s attacking third and were helped by an apparent lack of communication early on within the Impact backline.
Columbus tried to isolate Marco Di Vaio by playing a high defensive line and generally managed to do so, but the strategy played into the hands of the speedy Nyassi on the right. The Gambian was released behind the Crew defense a number of times, but could not convert his chances.
The Crew’s most dangerous opportunity came in the 25th minute, as Josh Williams headed a pass towards Emilio Rentería, who unleashed a first time shot over Donovan Ricketts’ net.
Montreal, for their part, had the fans on their feet in the 43rd as Neagle won his duel in the box after Collen Warner flashed some skills in flicking the ball over two defenders’ heads. Neagle played it back to Di Vaio, but his attempt was blocked by Sebastián Miranda.
Neagle and Di Vaio picked up where they left off in the second half. Four minutes in, the Impact’s DP worked well on the left past Miranda before crossing for Neagle who beat the offside trap. The winger's headed shot missed narrowly wide.
Montreal enjoyed an interesting spell of possession before the Crew took the lead. Ricketts got a hand on Milosevic’s header on a Vukovic corner, but could not prevent the powerful attempt from hitting twine in the 64th minute.
The Impact kept pushing and were rewarded in the 78th minute as Nyassi fed the ball to an overlapping Valentin. The sophomore right back coolly slotted the ball past Andy Gruenebaum and appeared overjoyed with his effort.
And Justin Mapp’s strong effort that got Montreal the opportunity they needed to cap things off. The left winger – who had started in a central role – was bundled over in the box by Chris Birchall, leaving Bernier to convert the spot kick.
Montreal and Columbus will both enjoy six days' rest before their next game on Saturday, July 14. The Impact will travel to PPL Park to face the Philadelphia Union while the Crew will entertain Sporting Kansas City at Crew Stadium.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Patrice Bernier||Was his usual self, directing traffic in midfield and coolly converting the penalty to hand the Impact three points|
|2||Justin Mapp||Winger was active all night, ruthlessly exploiting the space afforded him and earning a clear penalty that led to the win|
|3||Josh Williams||Defender more than held his own against Di Vaio and the Impact attack. He and Chad Marshall formed an imposing duo.|