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Montreal rallies to post 4-3 MLS win over Cincinnati

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MONTREAL — CF Montreal will be going into the international break on a high following a dramatic 4-3 MLS win over FC Cincinnati on Saturday night at Stade Saputo.

Joel Waterman, Romell Quioto, and Mathieu Choinière were Montreal’s (7-5-2) goal scorers, while Junior Moreno and Álvaro Barreal scored for Cincinnati (6-7-1).

The game got off to a worrying start for Montreal, who saw their star forward and MVP candidate Djordje Mihailovic go down with an ankle injury after only three minutes. The worries would only worsen as he was forced to leave the game at the 15-minute mark.

“We’re still looking into what happened, but we know that it’s not serious,” said head coach Wilfried Nancy. “He obviously would’ve helped if he was fit to stay in but the game as a whole was very weird and unpredictable so it’s difficult to judge.”

Things would not get better for the home side as a defensive mishap from a corner left Moreno with a wide-open goal in the 12th minute.

The goal seemed to jolt both Montreal and the home crowd as they started to get their feet under them and enjoy more possession.

Less than 10 minutes after going down, Kamal Miller missed a header as the ball fell to an open Waterman, who was there to clean it up, exactly like Cincinnati’s opening goal.

“It’s such a special moment not just for myself but my folks and my family at home,” said Waterman who scored in front of his parents who were visiting from Vancouver. “It’s really good that all the defenders are getting on the scoresheet but at the end of the day the three points is all that matters. It was a tough week and I’m glad I got a reward from it.”

With the momentum on their side, Montreal continued to push for a go-ahead goal. That came in added time at the end of the first half as Quioto powered his way through two defenders and the goalkeeper to give Montreal the lead.

It had been a difficult month leading up to that moment, not having scored since April 16 and missing two golden opportunities earlier in the half.

“Usually, Romell is cleaner when he missed those opportunities,” said Nancy. “After that I’m happy for him because he deserved [to score]. Romell is always ‘in’ when it’s a big game.”

Montreal started the second half with the same vigour they ended the first, needing less than 30 seconds to double their advantage. A cheeky flick by Kei Kamara set up Choinière for his first of the season, sending Stade Saputo into raptures.

However, Cincinnati showed why they have one of the best road records in MLS, pulling one back immediately. Luciano Acosta spotted Barreal unmarked in the box, smashing it home only six minutes later.

“It’s crazy, [playing against Cincinnati] always brings a lot of goals and today was a game of fighting but we hung onto the three points,” said midfielder Victor Wanyama. “Playing against them is always challenging and physical. They’ve improved so much and it was tough today.”

Continuing the game’s dizzying back-and-forth, a VAR check confirmed that Cincinnati defender Nick Hagglund handled the ball in the penalty area, leading to Quioto converting his second of the game from the penalty spot.

Only four minutes after that, Cincinnati continued to fight back when a beautiful shot from Moreno sealed his brace, cutting the lead back down to one.

Montreal proceeded to shut the door for the remainder of the game, sealing the win and third place in the Eastern Conference.

Both teams will return to action on June 18 following the international break. Montreal will host Austin FC while Cincinnati will head to Subaru Park to take on the Philadelphia Union.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 28, 2022

Elias Grigoriadis, The Canadian Press