With a crucial away goal in the second half, Justin Mapp helped the Impact avoid defeat against TFC in the first leg of the Canadian Championship.In the first leg of the Amway Canadian Champion final on Wednesday at BMO Field in Toronto, Toronto FC played to a 1-1 draw with the Montreal Impact.
Doneil Henry put the home side in front in the first half, but Justin Mapp equalized for the Impact in the second, giving Montreal the slight advantage heading into next week’s return leg.
In what was a near full-strength lineup for the Impact, the oft-injured Nelson Rivas was given a rare start in central defense. The 31-year-old Colombian defender was, however, forced to leave the game after only two minutes of play with yet another injury. He was replaced by Wandrille Lefevre.
The Impact could have used some of Rivas’ strong aerial play in the 20th minute when Toronto found the opening goal off a corner kick. In the shuffling movement preceding the corner, Karl Ouimette lost track of Henry and the 20-year-old easily finished with a free header.
Toronto carried much of the play in the first half and comfortably led by a goal at the break, as the Impact struggled to maintain any meaningful possession and failed to record a single shot on target.
At the start of the second half, the Impact switched to a more attacking 4-4-2, with Jack McInerney subbing into the game for Brazilian midfielder Felipe. After a minute of play, a visibly charged Impact almost took the lead, as Hernan Bernardello nearly caught Toronto goalkeeper Joe Bendik by surprise with a misdirected cross that shaved off the crossbar.
Dwayne De Rosario nearly doubled Toronto’s lead in the 58th minute. His powerful effort from outside the Impact box struck the top corner of the goal frame and deflected off goalkeeper Evan Bush and out of danger.
The Impact were up in arms in the 68th minute, after a penalty wasn’t awarded in their favor. A Jack McInerney strike struck the dangling right arm of TFC defender Steven Caldwell, but referee Silviu Petrescu motioned for play to continue.
Five minutes later, the Impact would, however, find the equalizer. Mapp went on a run towards goal and unleashed a shot which curled into the top corner past Bendik.
The Impact held on for the draw, making them favorites to defend the title ahead of next week's return leg.
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