Sebastian Giovinco put on a show Saturday, scoring an early highlight-reel goal and coming close to another more than a few times as Toronto FC defeated the Portland Timbers 1-0.
The five-foot-four Italian sparkplug, who has six goals in his last nine games in all competitions, could have had a hat-trick in the first half alone.
Toronto (4-5-1) had other chances to add to its total but failed to convert them, making for a slightly nervy ending before 23,569 on a sunny afternoon at BMO Field. Portland goalie Adam Kwarasey had a fine outing and deserved a better fate.
Giovinco opened the game with bang in the fifth minute with a spectacular left-footed shot from 30 yards out that beat a diving Kwarasey. It was his fifth goal in 10 league matches, moving him into a tie for the team lead with the injured Jozy Altidore.
It marked the second game in a row that Portland (3-5-4) had conceded in the opening 10 minutes.
Giovinco kept unnerving the Timbers defenders. After scoring, he nutmegged fullback Alvas Powell during a slashing run into the box and delivered a swerving cross with the outside of his foot from the goalline on another attack — all in the first 15 minutes.
Things went from bad to worse for the Timbers when Argentine playmaker Diego Valeri limped off in the 25th minute after seemingly turning an ankle. The Portland designated player was making just his third start since off-season surgery.
Giovinco came close to adding a second goal soon after but his shot from in-close deflected off teammate Jonathan Osorio.
Toronto's Luke Moore, starting for the injured Jozy Altidore, came close with a shot from distance. Moore then just missed getting a foot on a nifty Giovinco cross in the 32nd minute. Four minutes later, another highlight-reel Giovinco strike was denied by a fingertip save from Kwarasey.
Toronto was putting on a show and captain Michael Bradley got into the act late in the half as he delivered a 40-yard ball on a dime to Giovinco in the box.
The Timbers offered more in the second half but couldn't break down the home side. Giovinco forced another save from Kwarasey in the 68th minute after creating space from nothing for a shot.
The Portland goalie had to be sharp again in the 80th, tipping a Warren Creavalle shot wide. He denied Bradley soon after.
The game, the 10th of the season but only the second at home for Toronto, was the first since news that the Toronto Argonauts will start playing at BMO Field next year. While disgruntled fans promised to wear black, the colour scheme in the stands seemed normal other than the South Stand where supporters held up signs before kickoff saying "Keep Your Promises" and "RIP BMO."
Centre back Eriq Zavaleta was inserted into the Toronto's starting lineup shifting Nick Hagglund to the bench. Chris Konopka continued in goal for the injured Joe Bendik.
Canadian international midfielder Will Johnson was on the bench in his return to the Timbers' first-team roster. The Portland captain suffered a badly broken leg in a shin-on-shin collision with Toronto's Mark Bloom at BMO Field last September.
It's been an uneven start for the Timbers, who have yet to string together a pair of wins.
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