Several versions of a draw would have done the job, but the Montreal Impact one-upped that challenge via a 1-0 win Wednesday evening in the second leg of their Canadian Championship third-round series with Canadian Premier League club York9 FC. The result booked a semifinal matchup Aug. 7 against CPL side Cavalry FC, who knocked off the Vancouver Whitecaps with a 2-1 road win, also on Wednesday.
A penalty kick from Ignacio Piatti in the 55th minute sealed the tie, after the Argentine’s cross was deemed to hit Diyaeddine Abzi’s outstretched arm. It was Piatti's first game back for Montreal in two months after a knee injury. The strike sent Montreal through 3-2 on aggregate, since a pair of away goals from the July 10 first leg already provided some breathing room.
While Montreal controlled much of the final 70 minutes, York9 created two brilliant chances early via Japanese midfielder Wataru Murofushi.
He first played Ryan Telfer through in the 8th minute, only for the Toronto FC loanee to miss an open net from 25 yards out as Impact goalkeeper James Pantemis rashly rushed out on his debut. The other opportunity arose as in the 17th minute when Murofushi clipped over the top for Kyle Porter, whose fluid shot sailed over the bar.
Montreal grew into the match thereafter, with striker Maxi Urruti strongly testing York9 goalkeeper Nathan Ingham twice before halftime. There was also some attacking impetus via midfielder Saphir Taider, who blasted a dipping shot off the upright in the 87th minute.
Despite advancing to the semifinals, trouble arose for Montreal in the 81st minute when Victor Cabrera was substituted off with what appeared to be a serious arm injury.
- 55' – MTL – Ignacio Piatti (PK)
- THE BIG PICTURE: Montreal, three-time winners of the Canadian Championship, last won the competition in 2014. Hopes of stopping Toronto FC’s run of dominance are alive and well, thought the result could also boost the Impact’s MLS fortunes. They entered with four straight losses in league play, having last won on June 26 against the Portland Timbers. As for York9, their first foray in the cup competition has come to a close.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: The Ignacio Piatti penalty kick stands out, but Ryan Telfer will surely be having nightmares of his miss in the 8th minute. Had his open-net chance found net, the entire complexion of the tie would have changed.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Saphir Taider was a force on both sides of the ball, dominating the midfield against a lower-division side. He nearly got his goal in the 87th minute, which would have been just reward for an impactful shift.