Didier Drogba, Ignacio Piatti deliver "something pretty special" for Impact

MONTREAL — There was a “Christmas in July” celebration at Stade Saputo on Saturday, and Santa, with a little help from Didier Drogba, delivered plenty of gifts to the Montreal Impact fans.

Drogba netted the second MLS hat-trick of his career and his first multi-goal game of the season to lead the way in Montreal’s dominant 5-1 victory over the Philadelphia Union.

“It’s been a long time since we dominated the ball like that,” Drogba said. “I didn't have to go to the [defensive] side of the field – today I was only focused on scoring.”

Drogba was helped by Ignacio Piatti, who assisted on two goals and scored one of his own for his 12th goal of the season – one behind New York City FC’s David Villa for the Golden Boot lead.

The duo was reunited after Drogba returned from a thigh injury and Piatti from a one-game suspension.

“Nacho has been dangerous all year,” head coach Mauro Biello said of Piatti. “Now that he’s playing with Didier, who draws attention from defenders and finds space, Piatti is even more dangerous.”

The Impact bounced back from a loss at home last week at the hands of NYCFC. For captain Patrice Bernier, that made Saturday's win something of a statement game.

"We needed a game that’s a reference point,” Bernier said. “This is a game that has put a standard for us that we have to match.”

A goal in the 72nd minute by Chris Pontius put somewhat of a damper on the celebration as the Impact are still seeking their first clean sheet since April 9.

But the Impact were pleased that Donny Toia returned from a hamstring injury to help bolster a backline that’s still suffering the loss of Laurent Ciman, who’s been out of the lineup following his appearance with Belgium at the Euro tournament and subsequent ankle injury.

And, of course, the dynamic duo of Drogba and Piatti – who goalkeeper Evan Bush said “is no doubt one of the top five players in the league” – gave the team a lot of confidence heading into the All-Star break.

“It’s impressive to watch them together,” Bush said. “It’s something pretty special and I think the fans loved seeing the hat-trick.”