Montreal Impact 3, Toronto FC 4 | MLS is Back Tournament Match Recap
Ayo Akinola scored a hat trick and Alejandro Pozuelo racked up three more assists, sending Toronto FC to a 4-3 Canadian Classique victory over the Montreal Impact in Group C play of the MLS is Back Tournament on Thursday.
The teams swapped five goals in the first 37 minutes of the contest, with Toronto conceding the lead twice before Akinola struck for two more goals, the last of which stood as the decisive tally.
Toronto jumped on top after Richie Laryea collected a throughball from Pozuelo down the left flank, charged into the penalty box and made a cut to this right before rifling home the finish to the far post, giving the Reds the lead just eight minutes into the match.
Montreal found the equalizer in short order, however, as Emanuel Maciel put Romell Quioto in on goal with a perfectly placed ball over the top in the 14th minute. The Honduran made no mistake with the finish, coolly slotting it home past Toronto goalkeeper Quentin Westberg. The Reds snatched the lead back in the 25th, as Pozuelo picked up his second assist on a pinpoint cross that found Akinola right in front of goal for an easy tap-in finish.
Montreal would strike back again in the 37th after Chris Mavinga was whistled for a penalty kick by referee Jair Marrufo for a challenge on Quioto in the box, allowing Saphir Taider to equalize from the spot.
But that lead would only last a matter of seconds, as Akinola slid behind the Impact backline immediately after the restart and cashed home his second of the evening off yet another feed from Pozuelo, giving the Reds a 3-2 lead they would take into halftime. It would stay that way until the 83rd minute, when Akinola got free down the right side and chipped home a breakaway finish to complete the hat trick and render another late penalty kick from Taider a moot point.
- 8' - TOR - Richie Laryea | WATCH
- 14' - MTL - Romell Quioto | WATCH
- 25' - TOR - Ayo Akinola | WATCH
- 37' - MTL - Saphir Taider (PK) | WATCH
- 37' - TOR - Ayo Akinola | WATCH
- 83' - TOR - Ayo Akinola | WATCH
- 90' (+4) - Saphir Taider (PK) | WATCH
Man of the Match
It's not often a player puts up three assists and doesn't get this honor, but with respect to Pozuelo, we have to give it Akinola for this one. He's been on one to start this tournament, with Thursday's hat trick giving him five goals through TFC's first two games.
- THE BIG PICTURE: Toronto FC haven't had Jozy Altidore in either of their matches, but Akinola is certainly doing his best impression. He's looking like a breakout star of the tournament so far. Montreal will rue their defensive lapses, particularly the one on Akinola's second that immediately wiped away any momentum they may have gained from Taider's equalizer. The Impact look headed for an early exit after dropping each of their first two matches.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Akinola's third was a great moment for the 20-year-old forward, who was mobbed by a group of understandably thrilled teammates after netting his team's final goal.
- YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: Pozuelo was the provider of the night, but Maciel's ball on Quioto's goal was a gorgeous dime in its own right, and is worth another look if you didn't catch it on the broadcast.