Two late goals from Ballou Tabla saw CF Montréal begin the defense of their 2019 Canadian Championship title with a 3-1 quarterfinal victory on the road in Halifax, Nova Scotia, against HFX Wanderers on Wednesday.

Tied at 1-1 heading into second-half stoppage time, Montréal were staring at the prospect of penalty kicks and a possible upset against the Canadian Premier League side. But Tabla, making his first appearance of the season, came to the rescue in dramatic fashion.

The Canadian attacker received the ball from atop the box and beat 19-year-old goalkeeper Kieran Baskett with an upper-90 shot to lift Montréal up 2-1.

Tabla wasn't done there. Seconds later, the one-time Barcelona prospect made his way from the left flank into the box and placed the ball in the side netting to notch his second tally and confirm Montréal's passage to the semifinals.

Montréal's newest signing Matko Miljevic made his debut with the club, slotting into midfield for the visitors. The 20-year-old had a clear chance to score in the 23rd minute but took too much time and was caught up by the Wanderers' defense.

The sold-out Wanderers Grounds erupted minutes later when Cory Bent put the underdogs in front. At the 27th minute, the Englishman dispossessed Emanuel Maciel in Montréal's own half and with just enough space tried his luck from outside the box. Bent's strike took Sebastian Breza by surprise, giving Halifax a 1-0 advantage.

Miljevic didn't miss a second time, though. The American opened his CF Montréal account in the 35th minute to bring the score back to all-square. Zorhan Bassong made his way into the box from the left flank and dribbled past a defender before passing back to Miljevic just left of the penalty spot. Montréal's new No. 11 found the top corner to lay the groundwork for Tabla's late intervention.

Goals

  • 27' – HFX – Cory Bent
  • 35' – MTL – Matko Miljevic
  • 89' – MTL – Ballou Tabla
  • 90'+2' – MTL – Ballou Tabla

Three things

  • THE BIG PICTURE: In the middle of a three-match week, Montréal presented a heavily rotated squad in Halifax with seven changes to the starting XI. It took the MLS side the full 90 minutes to find a way to eliminate the Wanderers, but Tabla's two strikes off the bench secured a semifinal berth against Forge FC next week.
  • MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Alone just above the penalty spot, Ballou Tabla sunk the upset hopes of Halifax fans gathered at Wanderers Grounds. His piercing shot hit the upper 90 and sent Montréal through to the final four.
  • MAN OF THE MATCH: Ballou Tabla was quiet for most of his first appearance of the year, substituting in for Ahmed Hamdi at halftime, but was big when it counted. The 22-year-old scored two crucial late goals that eliminated Halifax and brought his name back to prominence.

Next up:

  • HFX: End of tournament
  • MTL: Saturday, September 25 at Columbus Crew | 7:30 pm ET (TVA Sports, MLS LIVE on ESPN+) | MLS Regular Season