TORONTO — Ignacio Piatti and Anthony Jackson-Hamel each scored twice as the Montreal Impact ended their slump in spectacular fashion Wednesday in a wild 5-3 win that derailed, if only temporarily, Toronto FC's seemingly relentless march towards the Supporters' Shield.
Toronto striker Tosaint Ricketts made it interesting with goals in the 77th and 79th minutes as the desperate home side looked to claw its way back with the BMO Field crowd of 28,898 roaring it on.
League-leading Toronto (18-4-8) had not lost since July 1 when it dropped a 3-1 decision at FC Dallas. TFC came into the game unbeaten at home this season and on record pace as it chewed up MLS opposition.
But Montreal (11-12-6) was full value for the win, leading 2-0 after 12 minutes and 3-0 after 24. While Toronto may have the last laugh this season come the playoffs, it was a loss that the home side will long remember — Montreal payback for past indignities at the hands of TFC.
Marco Donadel also scored for Montreal, which came into the game six points out of the playoff picture. Toronto, missing three star players in Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore and Victor Vazquez, also got an own goal from Deian Boldor late in the first half.
The two teams came into the game headed in different directions.
The Impact had lost four straight, a slide that started with a 2-1 defeat Aug. 27 at the hands of TFC. A 3-2 loss to Minnesota on a late goal last weekend prompted owner Joey Saputo to issue a statement to fans, asking for patience during an "extremely trying" season.
Undefeated in a club-record 11 games (8-0-3), Toronto was looking for its seventh straight win — tying the league record in the post-shootout era. Other than the MLS Cup final, which Toronto lost in a penalty shootout last December, Toronto had not lost a regular-season or playoff game at home since Oct, 1, 2016.
Toronto came into the match without Giovinco and Altidore, both injured, and star playmaker Vazquez on the bench after a slight fever. The three have a combined 35 goals and 27 assists. With 12 other TFC players also scoring this season, there was offence available elsewhere.
But it was the visiting side that showed its teeth early.
The Impact played three at the back, swarmed TFC captain Michael Bradley when he had the ball and pressured Toronto at the other end through Piatti, Blerim Dzemaili and Jackson-Hamel.
On a night that started out feeling like a playoff game, the slumping visitors struck quickly.
Montreal went ahead in the 10th minute on a freak goal that saw goalkeeper's Alex Bono's attempted clearance bounce off Piatti and back into the goal. The problem started when Eriq Zavaleta was unable to clear a Daniel Lovitz cross and the TFC defender's short backpass left Bono with few options.
Zavaleta was in the spotlight again in the 12th minute when he gave away the ball. It ended up with Donadel who launched a swerving rocket from well outside of the penalty box.
Piatti made it 3-0 in the 24th minute, taking advantage of a Zavaleta slip to make space and hammer a high ball home.
It was reminiscent of the Eastern Conference final last November when the Impact, playing at Olympic Stadium, raced into a 3-0 lead in the first leg of a two-game series on goals by Dominic Oduro, Matteo Mancosu and Ambroise Oyongo in the opening 53 minutes.
Altidore and Bradley answered back for Toronto in a 3-2 loss before a sellout crowd of 61,004 at Olympic Stadium. Toronto went on to win the second leg 5-2 for a 7-5 aggregate win.
The comeback fell short this night.
Toronto coach Greg Vanney replaced Zavaleta in the 32nd minute, throwing on forward Ben Spencer. It was a rare off night by the 25-year-old centre back, who has been rock-steady this season.
Toronto pulled one back in the 42nd when Jonathan Osorio's shot deflected in off Boldor. It was credited as an own goal by the Romanian defender.
The bottom fell out early in the second half with goals by Jackson-Hamel in the 47th and 51st minutes as the Toronto defence was carved open again. The first goal came courtesy of a poor Steven Beitashour backpass while the second came off a giveaway in the Toronto end.
It was just Toronto's seventh loss in 41 regular-season and playoff games (23-7-11) over the last 12 months.
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