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Iankov's late goal lifts CF Montreal past Philadelphia Union

MONTREAL — Two late goals from Dominic Iankov and Ruan Texeira lifted CF Montreal to a 4-2 Major League Soccer victory over the Philadelphia Union on Saturday night at Stade Saputo.
CF Montreal's Josef Martínez (17) breaks away from Philadelphia Union's Jesus Bueno (20) during first half MLS soccer action in Montreal, Saturday, June 29, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

MONTREAL — Two late goals from Dominic Iankov and Ruan Texeira lifted CF Montreal to a 4-2 Major League Soccer victory over the Philadelphia Union on Saturday night at Stade Saputo.

Quinn Sullivan and Jesus Bueno found the back of the net for Philadelphia (4-8-8) while Josef Martinez and Bryce Duke also scored for Montreal (5-8-7), which extended their home unbeaten run to five games with three unanswered second-half goals.

“We talked about how we wanted to change the direction of the match at halftime, so we made the necessary adjusts and were clinical in front of goal,” said head coach Laurent Courtois. “There is definitely some relief, but I’m mostly just happy for the guys who came back or were just getting their first success with us.”

Both teams opened the game with a cautious approach, slowing the match down to a glacial pace with nether one looking to give up possession in a compromising position.

As the clock struck the half-hour mark, the game shifted into high gear, with Philadelphia drawing first blood.

After being left completely unmarked in the middle of the penalty area, Sullivan struck a low shot off the post and in, giving the visitors the lead.

“There are a lot of aspects on the ball and defensively where we need to grow, but that’s the beauty of this group,” said Courtois. “The idea was not to play central too early and create those angles from width first, but that’s something we were not able to do in the first half.”

However, Montreal only needed five minutes to respond when Martinez rose above the defence to get on the end of a perfectly placed Duke corner.

With the game now far more open, the Union were able to regain the lead after just six minutes due to yet another defensive mishap in the Montreal penalty area. Missed clearances and a lapse in coverage left Bueno with a simple tap-in at the back post.

Montreal took control early in the second half in search of an equalizer. That control came from the midfield players, who seemed overwhelmed in the first half but now were able to keep the ball and progress through Philadelphia’s lines.

“We have a lot of young guys, because if you have more experience, you can understand where the good spaces are for us. In the second half we tried to move the ball more side-to-side and punish them,” said Martinez, who was hailed as a positive leader by Courtois following his Man of the Match performance.

“I try to help the most I can. You have your own experiences, so you have to do your best and hopefully the guys accept what we do and what we have to say.”

Just before the hour-mark, the breakthrough would finally come during a chaotic free kick sequence.

A high, looping ball from Duke managed to slip by the entire defence and head toward goal. A missed clearance from Jack Eliott finally sent the ball into the net, tying the game at two apiece.

Now level, Montreal went looking for all three points by completely taking over the tempo of the game. With time running out, Iankov provided that goal as regular time expired. After beating one defender, the Bulgarian international fired the ball into the bottom corner.

“Considering the level (Duke and Nathan Saliba) have at this level against the specificities of a team like Philadelphia … they’re constantly learning from this type of setup,” said Courtois. “We asked them to not always feel the need to create something with the ball, but more just to connect and manipulate your opponents.”

With Philadelphia now fully committed to the attack, Montreal was able to hit back on the counter and double their lead just a couple minutes later in stoppage time. Substitute Lassi Lappalainen sent a cross to the back post for a running Ruan who made no mistake from in close, sending the home crowd into raptures.


Philadelphia: Visits the Chicago Fire FC on Wednesday.

CF Montreal: Visits New York City FC on Wednesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2024.

Elias Grigoriadis, The Canadian Press