It was another unexpected chapter of the 401 derby tonight at BMO Field. The heavy underdogs, the Montreal Impact, overcame a first half red card to defeat Toronto FC 1-0, a huge victory for the struggling Quebec side. It wasn't the homecoming Toronto FC was looking for.
Ignacio Piatti was the hero for the Montreal Impact as his late goal stunned Toronto FC, who were on the front foot for the majority of the match. Evan Bush had a clean sheet in the Montreal goal, although Toronto didn't trouble him as much as they should have.
Inspired by a raucous crowd at BMO Field, Toronto FC enjoyed the lion's share of early possession. The club moved the ball around well, looking to find holes in a Montreal backline that has been leaky of late. Michael Bradley, in particular, enjoyed a number of early touches as he picked out teammates all over the field.
Montreal, however, had clearly done their homework before the match, and played with the majority of their team behind the ball. This made for a bit of a dry opening half, but was an effective strategy. Toronto has struggled to break down teams who clog up the final third, and the first half of this match was no different.
Things took an odd turn in the 43rd minute, when Steven Beitashour kept running with the ball after the play had been whistled for a foul. Incensed, the Impact's Callum Mallace delivered a big shoulder check to Beitashour, sending the Toronto fullback flying. He was subsequently sent off.
Both teams quickly converged as a minor scrap broke out, as has been established before there is no love lost between these two sides. The only other damage done was a yellow card to Marky Delgado, although the match certainly had a more chippy feel after the incident.
The shenanigans continued in the second half, when a number of fouls went uncalled for both clubs and tensions mounted. Every whistle and non-whistle saw heavy complaints from both sides, frustrated with the cards they had been dealt.
Toronto and Montreal each suffered big blows in the 55th and 67th minutes respectively when Didier Drogba and then Sebastian Giovinco went off injured. Drogba appeared to be dealing with a leg injury, while Sebastian Giovinco also limped off the field and down the tunnel for more treatment. He was replaced by Tsubasa Endoh.
With Toronto pressing to try and break down the shorthanded Impact, they would be caught on a counter attack. A quality finish from Piatti was at the end of it, giving Montreal an unlikely 1-0 lead away from home in a building where they had never before won.
It was yet another example of Toronto FC failing to take advantage of an opponent who is shorthanded. Toronto's last two matches in which they dropped points came against teams without 11 men for most of the match. The worst was against a San Jose team who scored the winning goal without two of their players.
With the loss, Toronto FC risks falling out of the top spot in the east if New York City FC can get a win against Orlando City tomorrow.