MONTREAL – The great Yogi Berra popularized the famous phrase “it’s not over ’til it’s over” and CF Montreal reapplied it to the letter Friday night at the Stade Saputo.
The Montrealers took advantage of a red card to score two goals late in the second half to earn a 2-2 draw against the Columbus Crew.
Thanks to a heroic comeback and this point acquired in extremis, CF Montreal (16-9-5) secured its first MLS playoff appearance since 2016.
After Luis Díaz was booked for kicking Kei Kamara’s leg in the 75th minute, the Montreal troops worked for a long time in the opposite zone.
Victor Wanyama first deftly deflected Matko Miljevic’s shot into the back of the net in the 89th minute. Bleu-blanc-noir continued to increase their pressure and during stoppage time Zachary Brault-Guillard leveled the score with a low shot. which hit Josh Williams’ leg.
“I saw the space and no one was attacking me. My control of the ball was a bit off, so I kicked it back. I told myself I was going to try it and he got sidetracked. It’s good for us because we qualified for the playoffs, Brault-Guillard analyzed. Sometimes I don’t shoot enough, even when I’m in better situations, but this time I said ‘go ahead’ and tried. »
The Crew (9-6-14) have suffered just one loss in their last 17 games, but that loss came at the hands of CF Montreal on August 3 and in a virtually identical setting.
After a long break due to bad weather, Wilfried Nancy’s men scored two goals at the end, in the 88th minute and in stoppage time, to save themselves with three points away from home.
Although Diaz’s red card certainly helped Montreal’s cause on Friday, Nancy praised the character of her players, who never gave up despite being down two goals.
“Instead of going underground, the guys rolled up their sleeves and carried on. The substitutes that come in don’t always work, but that game was very well built to achieve our first objective, said the coach. I didn’t see how it went on the red card, but we increased the pressure and they rewarded us. »
The Montreal team had managed to find their rhythm in the first half and tested goalkeeper Eloy Room, but started the second half with less confidence. Within two minutes, Jonathan Mensah and Lucas Zelarayan gave the Crew a 2-0 lead.
The CFM enters the playoffs with this null verdict
“In the first 15 minutes of the second half, we were losing the ball too fast. As a result, we were unable to repeat the attacks. If we had scored the goals we should have, maybe the game would have been a little more open. Afterwards, the appearance of the match made us put more players in the penalty area”, said Nancy.
The Crew remains unbeaten in their last seven outings (2-0-5) and remains sixth in the Eastern Conference.
CF Montreal will return to action on Tuesday night when it hosts the Chicago Fire.
Two quick goals, twice
The Montrealers came under pressure from the Crew in the first 12 minutes of the game, but goalkeeper James Pantemis made some excellent saves.
Pantemis came in twice at the expense of Cucho Hernandez and then quickly stopped a deflected header from Mensah.
“My teammates encouraged me, but it’s my job. Yes, I make the saves, but then we also score goals. We found a way to get the point, we are taking it and preparing for the next game,” Pantemis said.
Wilfried Nancy’s men quietly began to find their comfort and, in turn, had good scoring opportunities. Mason Toye was in a good position to open the scoring in the 24th minute, but his weak shot didn’t derail Room.
In first-half stoppage time, CF Montreal once again stormed the visitors’ penalty area, but defender William Sands saved the day by blocking a powerful shot from Djordje Mihailovic.
The Crew’s patience was rewarded in the 66th minute. Following a free kick, Steven Moreira sent a cross into the penalty area and Mensah jumped higher than Victor Wanyama to redirect the ball into the net.
Perhaps still a little shaken by this goal, Bleu-blanc-noir lacked cohesion in their zone just two minutes later and the Crew took advantage of it. Zelarayan fired a first shot, blocked by Kamal Miller, but was able to take his return before lodging the ball behind Pantemis.
CF Montreal had an open door in the 75th minute, when Diaz’s yellow card turned red after a video replay.
Following a quick shot from Miljevic, Wanyama managed to bend over to deflect the ball with a header into the net. Entering the game in the 77th minute, Brault-Guillard then caused hysteria in Saputo Stadium.
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