The Montreal Impact lifted the Voyageurs Cup after defeating Toronto FC 1-0 in the second leg of the Amway Canadian Championship final on Wednesday.
Felipe scored in stoppage time with a powerful strike to the right of goalkeeper Joe Bendik seconds after striker Marco Di Vaio hit the crossbar at Saputo Stadium.
Because the Impact scored a crucial away goal in a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the final at BMO Field on May 28, a scoreless draw in Montreal would have been sufficient for the victory.
But Felipe’s late goal was the dagger, as Montreal won the two-legged final 2-1 on aggregate to defend its Cup in the process.
As a result, the Impact (2-1-1) advance to the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League, the annual club competition featuring 24 teams from North America, Central America and the Caribbean.
The Impact join the New York Red Bulls and El Salvador’s C.D. FAS in Group 3 of the tournament, which gets underway in August.
Toronto (1-2-1) came awfully close to the winner in the 83rd minute of play when Jonathan Osorio skipped past an Impact defender and hit the post to ‘keeper Evan Bush’s left.
Four minutes later, after intense pressure from the Impact, Hernan Bernardello nearly put Montreal in front with a left-footed curler that missed just wide.
But it was Felipe’s first Canadian championship goal that sealed the victory and gave Montreal its third Voyageurs Cup in the competition’s seven-year history.
Toronto manager Ryan Nelsen’s men came out flying from the get-go, putting instant pressure on Bush.
Benefitting from winger Alvaro Rey’s good speed down the touchline, Toronto got several good crosses into the box in the game’s first 20 minutes.
The tide turned at the half-hour mark, with the Impact seemingly gaining confidence from a Jack McInerney header that missed just over the bar.
From there, the Impact came close to opening the score on many occasions.
Two left-footed volleys from Di Vaio went just wide, and a Bernardello free kick in an advanced position forced a good save from Bendik, who sprawled to his left to stop the shot in the 43rd minute. It was Montreal’s only shot on target in the first half.
With halftime looming, Toronto’s Doneil Henry looked to handle the ball in the box with his arm, but the referee was not interested in the Impact players’ complaints.
Shots were 9-7 in favour of the Impact at halftime with possession split down the middle.
Each team ended the game with two shots on target apiece.
The Impact reached the quarter-finals of the 2008-09 Champions League, losing 5-4 on aggregate to Mexico’s Santos Laguna. Toronto FC were also beaten by Santos in the semifinals of the tournament’s 2011-12 edition.
Notes: Acquired on Monday by Montreal, Mamadou Danso was ineligible to play in the final. a Montreal has not conceded a goal in the Canadian Championship at Saputo Stadium since joining Major League Soccer. a Toronto heads back to BMO Field for an MLS game with the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday. a Montreal returns to MLS action on June 11 when it welcomes D.C. United to Saputo Stadium.