HARRISON, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls may not be winning pretty but they are winning all the same.
The Red Bulls continued their recent trend of churning out victories on Wednesday night, defeating the Montreal Impact 2-1 at Red Bull Arena in a showdown of two of the four teams that entered the night in a tie for first place in the Eastern Conference.
Thierry Henry led the way for New York by bagging a brace that included a bicycle kick for the winner in the 88th minute, but Montreal still nearly mounted the improbable comeback thanks in part to a goal at the end of regulation from substitute Marco Di Vaio.
The victory improved New York to 6-4-2 and kept them atop the Eastern Conference with the Houston Dynamo, who routed D.C. United earlier in the evening, while dropping Montreal to 5-2-2.
The Red Bulls came out dictating the tempo of the game but the Impact’s 4-1-4-1 formation proved difficult to break down. New York had to wait until the 18th minute to get their first clean look on goal, but Henry bent a teasing shot just wide of the far post after collecting a pass from Jonny Steele.
GOAL: Thierry Henry's magnificent overhead kick
New York received some bad news shortly after as forward Péguy Luyindula had to be replaced by Fabián Espíndola because of a left hamstring injury. The Argentine forward took some time to settle into the game, but ultimately helped put the Red Bulls out in front in the waning moments of the first half.
After seeing an effort from Eric Alexander smash off the woodwork and back into play, Espíndola collected the ball near the end line and played it across to Henry for an easy finish from close range.
The Impact came out of the intermission needing to push the game in order to find an equalizer, but it was New York who had the better of the opportunities early in the second half.
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Still, the game remained at 1-0 until Henry came up with some late magic. Markus Holgersson flicked on Juninho's corner kick, and the Red Bulls captain soared into the air, connecting superbly on an overhead kick for a surefire Goal of the Week candidate.
The Impact refused to roll over, however. Di Vaio ruined the Red Bulls’ shutout with a low shot to the near post and he nearly pulled them back into with a late shot that smacked off both posts before play was whistled back for a very tight offsides call on the Italian forward.
Both teams will now quickly turn their focus towards their next respective matches in a few days’ time. The Impact host Real Salt Lake at Stade Saputo on Saturday afternoon, and Red Bulls travel to Gillette Stadium to battle the New England Revolution later that evening.
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by email at Franco8813@gmail.com.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Thierry Henry||Pure class from the Frenchman on his overhead kick for the winner. Also scored the first and made things happen all over the final third|
|2||Markus Holgersson||A quiet, but super defensive outing from the Swedish center back, who has come into his own in 2013. Had the flick on for Henry's winner|
|3||Jonny Steele||Continued to show what a crucial offseason acquisition he was, creating chances from the left flank and was denied a splendid goal only by a sprawling save from Perkins|