Winger Lassi Lappalainen and striker Chinonso Offor both scored as CF Montreal beat Toronto FC in Major League Soccer play to win the Canadian Classique 2-0 on Saturday night.
Defender George Campbell earned an assist on the first goal for Montreal (5-6-0), which won its sixth straight game in all competitions.
Toronto (2-4-5) spent the final 34 minutes down to 10 men after winger Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty received a red card.
Goalkeeper Sean Johnson was the standout player for the visiting side, making four saves. Italian stars Federico Bernardeschi and Lorenzo Insigne were kept relatively quiet on Toronto’s offence throughout the match.
Toronto (2-4-5) has suffered its third straight defeat in all competitions after also losing to Montreal in the Canadian Championship quarterfinal on Tuesday, a match marred by fights in the stands.
Saturday’s match wasn’t without fireworks as a scrum broke out between both teams at the end of the match.
The injury-depleted Reds have one win in their last nine matches.
Lappalainen, who came on as a substitute at halftime, broke the deadlock in the 53rd minute. Campbell dribbled around several opponents and laid the ball off to the Finnish winger, who slotted a low cross into the box past Johnson before a sellout crowd of 19,619 at Stade Saputo.
Things got worse from there for Toronto. Marshall-Rutty earned his second yellow card of the match in the 56th minute to put the visiting side down to 10 men. Marshall-Rutty received the second caution for delaying the game when Montreal was attempting a throw-in.
Offor doubled Montreal’s lead in the 68th minute, finishing a cross from Zachary Brault-Guillard that deflected off Toronto defender Aime Mabika.
Johnson made a series of saves late in the second half to keep Toronto’s deficit at two, stopping Ariel Lassiter, Brault-Guillard and Choiniere on the doorstep.
In the first half, neither club produced a shot on goal.
Toronto FC dominated possession in the first 25 minutes, often funnelling their offence through Bernardeschi, and forced Montreal into committing several turnovers, but had trouble finding a finishing product in the final third.
Bernardeschi had the chance to make a play for Toronto in the box in the 18th minute, but Montreal defender Robert Thorkelsson, in his first MLS start, defended him well to force a corner, which led to nothing.
Montreal then started putting more pressure on the visitors.
Montreal’s best chance to score in the first half came in the 29th minute when wingback Aaron Herrera broke down the right side and found Offor in the box, but the striker put his header over the net.
Moments later, Herrera brought more energy to the home crowd by dancing around Toronto defenders down the right wing and sending a cross that fell right in front of the opposing goal, but didn’t find a teammate on the other end.
Montreal came close to giving the home side the lead heading into halftime when midfielder Mathieu Choiniere broke out on the break and slid a pass to oncoming winger Ariel Lassiter down the left side, but Lassiter’s shot went wide.
Montreal finished the opening frame with three yellow cards, as Campbell, Thorkelsson and Herrera were all penalized.
Montreal kept cranking up the pressure to open the second half. Midfielder Sean Rea played a ball into the box for Choiniere, who had his shot attempt on Toronto’s doorstep blocked by defender Mabika.
CF Montreal celebrated the franchise’s 30th anniversary with a ceremony on the pitch at halftime. Montreal, then known as the Impact, played its inaugural season in the American Professional Soccer League in 1993 and its first MLS season in 2012. The franchise rebranded to become CF Montreal in January 2021. As part of the celebration, Montreal also unveiled a new historical path at Stade Saputo to commemorate the club’s 30-year history.
NO SUPPORTERS SECTION
CF Montreal closed the visiting supporters’ section at Stade Saputo for Saturday’s match after fights between Toronto FC and Montreal fans broke out in the BMO Field stands during the Canadian Championship quarterfnal on Tuesday. Toronto FC fans who’d bought seats in the supporters’ section for Saturday were refunded and the tickets were put back up for sale.
Montreal hits the road to play FC Cincinnati on Wednesday and New York Red Bulls next Saturday.
Toronto hosts the Red Bulls on Wednesday, then visits Austin FC next Saturday.