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The Globe and Mail

Impact held by TFC in Canadian Championship opener

Montreal Impact Lamar Neagle (back) fights for the ball with Toronto FC Miguel Aceval during the first half of their first leg of the 2012 Amway Canadian Championships soccer match in Montreal, Quebec May 2, 2012.


Struggling Toronto FC settled for a 0-0 away draw against the Montreal Impact on Wednesday night in the opening game of their Amway Canadian Championship semi-final.

Toronto, the reigning Canadian champions, hardly threatened offensively throughout the 90 minutes before a crowd of 13,405 at Olympic Stadium.

Off to a 0-7 start in Major League Soccer competition, and with home-field advantage in their favour for next week's second leg, the Reds had to view the result as a positive.

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Montreal, which beat Toronto for its first MLS regular season win on April 7, has yet to beat the Reds in seven Canadian Championship meetings (0-5-2).

Toronto FC will host next Wednesday's return match at BMO Field.

The winner of the two-game semi-final will face the winner of the other semi-final between the MLS Vancouver Whitecaps and Edmonton FC of the North American Soccer League.

The Impact, who are off to a 2-5-2 start in their inaugural MLS season, had a number of solid scoring opportunities, particularly in the first half.

After failing to connect with Lamar Neagle's threatening through-ball in the opening half, Montreal's Sanna Nyassi headed a cross by Jeb Brovsky over the goal in the 54th minute.

Nyassi was ruled offside when his shot found the back of the net in the 66th minute.

The Reds' only threat in the first half came five minutes in when Reggie Lambe jumped on a turnover. The Bermudan forward drove into the 18-metre box where he was stood up and stopped by Impact defender Matteo Ferrari.

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Lambe came up huge with a goal line stop 27 minutes in, denying Montreal's biggest threat in the first 45 when he headed clear Shavar Thomas' header off a corner kick.

Toronto goalkeeper Milos Kocic batted a couple of Impact scoring chances over the goal in the opening half, including Bernardo Corradi's low header on Brovsky's cross from the right side.

The game only featured one booking, and it didn't come until injury time when Toronto midfielder Luis Silva was given a yellow card for an intentional handball.

NOTES: Toronto FC's starting lineup featured five Canadians, including Doneil Henry, Ashtone Morgan, Julian de Guzman, Adrian Cann and Terry Dunfield. Montreal had no Canadian starters. ... The crowd was the smallest the Impact has drawn this year in four games at Olympic Stadium, the team's home until expansion of adjacent Saputo Stadium is completed next month. Montreal drew 58,912 to its MLS home opener against Chicago on Mar. 17. There were 23,120 on hand for the Impact's first MLS win over Toronto on Apr. 7, and 19,223 for a 2-0 win over Portland on Saturday. ... Impact defender Zarek Valentin and midfielder Justin Mapp were both sidelined by injuries suffered Saturday.

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