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Toronto FC stamps CF Montreal to qualify for the 2022 Canadian Championship final


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Toronto FC crushed arch-rivals CF Montreal on Wednesday night with a 4-0 victory at BMO Field in the semi-finals of the Canadian Championship.
Brampton-born Ayo Akinola scored twice for the Reds, while Jesus Jimenez and Alejandro Pozuelo added singles.

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“We went out on the front foot, attacked them, pressed them, we didn’t want to give them a chance to breathe,” said Akinola, who recently returned to the TFC roster after undergoing knee surgery. last summer. “And then we had to capitalize on the chances, and we buried them.”

Despite plenty of scoring opportunities, Montreal couldn’t buy a goal on a hot evening by Lake Ontario. Goaltender Quentin Westberg recorded the clean sheet, TFC’s first shutout since September 25, a 0-0 draw at Colorado Rapids. Westberg made an 85th-minute close-range save on Ahmed Hamdi to save the goose egg.

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Toronto conceded the majority of ball possession to visitors Belle Province (59%-41%) but were deadly on the counterattack, shooting 11 to eight by Montreal with six shots on goal with the guests from Bas -Canada by registering three. Montreal (7V 6D 2D) is eight points ahead of Toronto (4V 8D 3D) in the standings, but TFC was the best on Wednesday.

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Akinola, who narrowly missed a few previous chances in the game, scored on a 40th-minute counterattack to put the home side ahead 1-0, scoring via a tap-in after a fine pass in the surface of Luca Petrasso. who received a perfect pass down the left side from Jesus Jimenez.

Akinola’s second goal, nine minutes into the second half, was spectacular. Collecting a pass on a run just outside the middle of Pozuelo’s box, Akinola stepped up to his right to avoid a pair of Montreal defenders and fired a right-footed blast just under the crossbar.

Jimenez kicked the ball with his left foot into the goal in the 75th minute after a couple of poor clearance attempts from Montreal defenders after a Toronto corner. He now has eight goals this season in all competitions this term – the most of any TFC player.

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Pozuelo put the icing on the cake for TFC in the 78th minute when he fired a shot from very close range with his right foot, assisted by Jayden Nelson.

TFC now face winners Vancouver/York United in the CC final in July. The Reds have won a record eight Canadian championships while Montreal has won five.

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“It’s a real rivalry,” Akinola said of the game against Montreal. “Every time we play them, we always want to kick their ass. Same thing for them. There will always be tension. There will always be a battle. All is not going to be pretty when it comes to these teams.

The Reds have the rare chance to win two Voyageurs Cups in a year, after beating CPL giants Forge FC on penalties on June 4 to win the 2020 Canadian Championship which was postponed for two years due to the pandemic. of COVID-19.

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TFC manager Bob Bradley had four recently injured players in the line-up – Jonathan Osorio, Shane O’Neill, Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty and Chris Mavinga, although only O’Neill was in the starting XI. Marshall-Rutty, Osorio and Mavinga all came on in the second half. Osorio replaced 19-year-old Ralph Priso, who had his best performance of the season. With five games in 15 days during this recent streak, Bradley is trying to rotate his roster to keep his players as fresh as possible. Montreal coach Wilfried Nancy has made sweeping changes to his starting lineup since Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Austin, not starting all of his starters, although he did bring in veteran forward Kei Kamara as second period. Montreal leading scorer Djordje Mihailovic, who has seven goals and four assists this year, was unable to play.

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Nelson, who was a hammer for the TFC on the right side with his pace, stole the ball into the Montreal side in the first minute and fired a right-footed shot from the goal post. Nelson also started the block which resulted in Akinola’s first goal.

TFC defender O’Neill had a good block, and might have saved a goal, on a Samuel Piette shot from just outside the box in the 20th minute for Montreal’s best chance early.

Shortly after Akinola’s first-half goal, Nelson was on the receiving end of a fine tic-tack-toe play starting with Akinola at Jimenez at Nelson from the right side of the box. Montreal defender Rudy Camacho put his foot on the ball just as Nelson tried to direct it towards the goal. Just before the halftime whistle, Akinola was again placed just in front of the goal on another counterattack, but Montreal goalkeeper James Pantemis made a nice save.

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Toronto’s next game is Saturday night at BMO Field against Atlanta.

BADGE TO LAND IN LITTLE ITALY

Incoming TFC striker Lorenzo Insigne, the former captain of Serie A side Napoli, will make his first public appearance in Toronto on Friday with a “street” reception in Little Italy (Clinton Street near College St.) 17 hours.

TFC signed Insigne to a four-year, $15 million-per-season deal in January — the most lucrative MLS deal ever — in January. The MLS secondary transfer window opens on July 7, so Insigne’s first game for TFC will be on July 9 when the San Jose Earthquakes visit BMO Field – if he’s healthy and ready to play. The Napoli native missed the recent Finalissima with a ‘little calf problem’. Genoa left-back Domenico Criscito is also set to join TFC this summer and/or Turin striker Andrea Belotti according to @TransfersMLS.

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