CF Montréal Goals: Mihailovic 86'
New York City Goals: Moralez 6', Héber 45', Talles Magno 61'
New York City Football Club booked a place in the Conference Finals of the 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs with a sensational 3-1 win at CF Montréal. Goals from Maxi Moralez and Héber, plus a Talles Magno penalty, claimed a thumping triumph on a glorious afternoon at Stade Saputo, with Đorđe Mihailovic netting a late consolation for the hosts. The result marks City's sixth successive victory and sets up a crunch trip to Philadelphia Union next weekend.
NYCFC headed into the contest with an impressive record against the Canadian outfit – victorious in nine of our 16 meetings, unbeaten at Stade Saputo and with four points gained from our 2022 encounters, courtesy of a 4-1 win and 0-0 draw.
Opting for consistency with his starting XI, Interim Head Coach Nick Cushing named an unchanged side to the one that comfortably defeated Inter Miami CF on Monday night, while Talles Magno made a welcome return to the bench, having missed the Round One clash through injury.
With Wilfried Nancy’s side also favoring an attack-minded, possession-based game, the pre-match discussion had dissected the meeting of two tactical minds in the dugout, as second and third place in the regular season standings locked horns – both entering the fixture in strong form with Montréal triumphant in six of their previous seven games.
Cushing had spoken before the game of the importance of starting the game with intensity, and the 200 City fans who made the trip to Canada were rewarded with a dream start, as the visitors opened the scoring inside six minutes.
The Boys and Blue had started brightly, zipping the ball around, and a neat one-two between Gabriel Pereira and Santiago Rodríguez unlocked the home defense – the Brazilian beating goalkeeper James Pantemis to the through-ball and clipping back across goal.
Though the delivery narrowly evaded Héber’s diving header, Moralez was once again in the right place at the right time to control and smash home from close range, for his second 2022 post-season strike, having bagged his 100th career goal in Monday night's victory.
Montréal responded well and went in search of a quickfire equalizer, as Kei Kamara forced Sean Johnson into an excellent nearpost stop and then headed off the post. With New York forced into an early change with Maxime Chanot injured in the hosts’ first chance, Le CFMTL took advantage to pile on the pressure, finding the back of the net through Joel Waterman on 17 minutes, only for the offside flag to be raised.
Johnson then produced another superb save to claw away Ismaël Koné’s effort, before Samuel Piette and Kamal Miller tried their luck from distance, spurred on by a vocal Stade Saputo crowd.
With the home side well on top and pushing for a leveler, New York sensed an opportunity on the counter-attack and struck the killer blow in injury time of the first period. Rodriguez did brilliantly to win the ball back on the edge of his own box, then found Moralez to turn defense into attack. Our opening goalscorer drove forward before returning the ball to Rodríguez, who slipped an inch-perfect pass into Héber’s path and the Forward slid home first-time to make it 2-0.
Desperate for a route back into the game, Montréal introduced top scorer Romell Quioto early in the second period but City (employing a tactical shift to defend our lead with five at the back) continued to hold firm, limiting the hosts' to half-chances and threatening on the counter.
Héber almost doubled his personal tally, firing straight at Pantemis from a narrow angle, before Cushing's side put the game to bed just after the hour from the penalty spot. Substitute Talles Magno stepped up to coolly convert, having played Pereira through for the award, as the 21-year-old once again nipped the ball past the onrushing goalkeeper to draw the foul.
The strike put New York in complete control and dealt a psychological blow to the hosts' hopes of a comeback. Montréal would pull a goal back late on as Mihailovic nodded past Johnson from Zachary Brault-Guillard's delivery with four minutes of normal time to go, but it did little to dampen City spirits, as the reigning MLS Cup Champions survived late pressure to progress and continue our defense of the trophy.
Player of the Match
How We Lined Up
New York City Football Club travel to Philadelphia Union in the Eastern Conference Final on Sunday, 30 October for a place in the 2022 MLS Cup Final.