A first-half goal from Luiz Araújo helped Atlanta United defeat Toronto FC 2-0 Saturday night at BMO Field, as the visitors picked up a valuable three points in their pursuit of an Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs spot.

With the victory, Atlanta jumped up into fifth place in the Eastern Conference table – two points clear of eighth-place New York City FC, who they will host Wednesday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Meanwhile, Toronto have been officially eliminated from playoff contention.

TFC started the match well and came within inches of getting off to a dream start in front of the home crowd. Less than five minutes in, Jonathan Osorio’s first-time effort from just outside the box after a cross from Ifunanyachi Achara had Atlanta keeper Brad Guzan beaten, but not the crossbar.

Twenty minutes later, it was Atlanta's turn to shake the woodwork. A half-hearted clearance was pounced on atop the box by George Bello, and his shot from distance took a wicked deflection off TFC defender Kemar Lawrence and against the crossbar.

It would remain scoreless until first-half stoppage time when Araújo provided the breakthrough. Bello delivered a low ball into the box where it was met by Araújo, and the Brazilian winger got just enough on his shot to loop it over a helpless Alex Bono and make it 1-0 for the visitors.

Araújo had a golden opportunity to net his second of the match early in the second half. After quickly winning back possession off a TFC goal kick, Matheus Rossetto played in Araújo, and his effort from point-blank range beat Bono but not Toronto defender Omar Gonzalez, who scrambled back to the goal line to provide cover for his stranded keeper.

Atlanta snagged an insurance marker late into second-half injury time (97th minute). On his own, Marcelino Moreno beat Lawrence 1-v-1 before sliding his shot past a sprawling Bono to make it 2-0 Atlanta and secure three crucial points for the visitors.

Temperatures boiled over late in the match, with both Auro Jr. of Toronto and Ezequiel Barco of Atlanta being sent off after a heated coming together.

Goals

  • 45'+2' – ATL – Luiz Araújo | WATCH
  • 90'+7' – ATL – Marcelino Moreno | WATCH

Three Things

  • THE BIG PICTURE: It took a full team effort, but Atlanta emerged with a massive three points away from home, something they've only accomplished just three times this season prior to Saturday night. The win puts the Five Stripes back into a playoff spot with five games left to play, and all of their remaining matches will come against teams currently not in a playoff spot. Toronto, meanwhile, saw their five-game unbeaten run in all competitions – and their playoff hopes – come to an end. The Reds will try and play spoiler the rest of the way while shifting their main focus to the Canadian Championship.
  • MOMENT OF THE MATCH: It wasn't the prettiest of finishes, but Luiz Araújo's marker right before halftime put Atlanta in front and they never looked back.
  • MAN OF THE MATCH: George Bello logged a tireless shift and was a nuisance on the left-hand side for Toronto FC's defense. The 19-year-old American has a bright future ahead of him.

Up Next

  • TOR: Wednesday, Oct. 20 at Inter Miami CF | 7:30 pm ET (TSN, MLS LIVE on ESPN+)
  • ATL: Wednesday, Oct. 20 vs. New York City FC | 7:30 pm ET (MLS LIVE on ESPN+)