MONTREAL – Didier Drogba lit up Montreal's world like nobody else.
On his first MLS start, Didier Drogba treated the Stade Saputo faithful to a hat trick that led the Impact to a hard-fought 4-3 win over the Chicago Fire on Saturday night.
The win pulls Montreal (9-11-4, 31 pts) back into sixth place in the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of Orlando City. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Union's win Saturday night against the San Jose Earthquakes sent the Fire to last place.
Drogba carved out his first chance not even one minute in and proceeded, for the next 25 minutes, not to trouble Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson. But one way or another, Drogba was going to get him.
In the 27th minute, Drogba did the little things right as he picked up a Nigel Reo-Coker cross and shrugged off Eric Gehrig’s challenge before slipping the ball past Johnson with the tip of his right foot from just outside the six-yard box.
Nine minutes later, Impact left back Maxim Tissot did the one thing he shouldn’t do, tripping Harry Shipp in the penalty area. Referee Silviu Petrescu pointed to the spot, leaving Larentowicz to send goalkeeper Evan Bush the wrong way and slot the penalty kick confidently to his right.
The Impact went up 2-1 shortly after. In the 42nd minute, Johnson misjudged Marco Donadel’s corner kick, missing the ball as he leaped. Lefèvre ran in unnoticed at the far post to nod it home.
But how quickly the night changed. Seconds later, Igboananike beat Tissot and blasted a low cross Gilberto’s way. The ex-Toronto FC striker hurt his former rivals, redirecting the cross past Bush for another equalizer.
Into the second half, it was Chicago who took the lead inside 15 minutes. On a Shipp corner kick, Igboananike leaped over Tissot, heading the ball home to make it 3-2.
But then Drogba happened again. Seconds later, Ignacio Piatti took a quick free kick straight to Drogba on the edge of the area, and the Ivorian powered home into the top right corner with his left foot.
The moment of grace came in the 65th minute. Calum Mallace crossed for Drogba, whose volley forced Johnson into the best of his many fantastic saves. But the ball flew high, still in bounds, with Johnson on his back behind his line. Drogba followed its path and nodded it in for the perfect hat trick – right foot, left foot and header.
Tough away games await both teams next week. The Fire play at New York Red Bulls next Friday, Sept. 11, while the Impact travel west to face the LA Galaxy on Saturday, Sept. 12.