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Montreal, Seattle win MLS semi-final openers

23 November 2016, 12:08

Montreal - A second-half goal by Cameroon defender Ambroise Oyongo gave the Montreal Impact a 3-2 victory over Toronto FC in Tuesday's first leg of their Major League Soccer semi-final playoff matchup.

A sellout crowd of 61,004 at Montreal's Olympic Stadium waited through a 40-minute delay to repaint the mismarked penalty areas and watched the host Impact seize a three-goal edge thanks to Dominic Oduro, Matteo Mancosu and Oyongo.

But Toronto's Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley scored in the closing minutes, vital tallies with away goals counting double if the aggregate is deadlocked.

"We did win the game, but it did it kind of feels like a loss because of the away goals," Oduro said. "But I still think we have a good team. We've done it against a couple of good teams. We can still do it."

The second leg will be played November 30 with the aggregate winner taking the Eastern Conference crown and a berth in the December 10 MLS Cup final against either the Seattle Sounders or Colorado Rapids.

Seattle edged visiting Colorado 2-1 in Tuesday's two-leg Western Conference opener, with Sunday's rematch to decide the first finalist.

Also read: Sounders win at Galaxy to boost playoff chances

Montreal, which beat Toronto 3-0 last year in the knockout round of the MLS playoffs, jumped ahead in the 10th minute thanks to former Toronto player Oduro.

Impact captain Patrice Bernier, a Canadian midfielder, fired a perfect pass to an in-stride Oduro racing down the right wing and the 31-year-old Ghana striker blasted the ball past Toronto goalkeeper Clint Irwin.

In the 12th minute, Montreal struck again as Argentine forward Ignacio Piatti left footed a centering pass to Italian striker Mancosu, who fired it from the heart of the penalty area into the back of the net.

Oyongo, 25, made it 3-0 in the 53rd minute. He took the ball just inside his own half of the pitch, dribbled with no pressure to the top of the Toronto penalty area and unleashed a left-footed blast into the far left corner of the net.

The visitors finally answered on a header in the 68th minute by Altidore, the US forward nodding home his 14th goal in his past 18 club matches.

US midfielder Bradley lifted Toronto within 3-2 in the 73rd minute, aided by a centering flick from Altidore and a set-up flick by Tosaint Ricketts before his right-footed smash.

"A team that doesn't have the characters maybe folds and throws in the towel, but our response was unbelievable," Toronto defender Drew Moor said.

"It was obviously not a good start to the game. We've set ourselves up extremely well for the return leg, but there's part of the hardest work in front of us, still."

Didier Drogba, the 38-year-old Ivory Coast forward who starred at Chelsea, entered in the 71st minute to cheers but was thwarted twice in the dying minutes.

Officials delayed the start after the width of the penalty areas was found to be about two meters too small on each side, the wrong marks on the artificial turf painted over in green and new ones painted down in white -- fans literally watching paint dry instead of football.

"We're somewhat embarrassed," Montreal Impact owner Joey Saputo said. "It's our fault. It's unfortunate this happened."

The team moved the match from its usual home stadium, three times smaller in seating capacity, to the 40-year-old Summer Games venue in order to meet huge ticket demand.

- Lodeiro's PK wins it -

At Seattle, the Sounders broke a 1-1 deadlock in the 61st minute when Uruguayan midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro drew a foul in the area from Colorado's Mark Burch and converted the penalty kick, netting his fifth goal in six games.

Colorado's Kevin Doyle opened the scoring in the 13th minute, the Irish midfielder deflecting in a shot off defender Chad Marshall from the top of the penalty area.

The Sounders equalized in the 19th minute as Cristian Roldan hit the left post but the rebound came to Jordan Morris and the 22-year-old hometown hero blasted the ball into the back of the net.

For the latest on national news, politics, sport, entertainment and more follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page.

- AFP

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