BY DARRELL LOVELL
In a game where Montreal and Toronto traded suspect penalties, Marco Di Vaio proved to be the difference as the Impact held off their Canadian rivals for a 2-1 victory.
Di Vaio was played the role of a quintessential center forward, providing a target for an Impact attack that used the long ball with laser like precision and was continuously hunting for the final touch. After several bites at the apple in the first half, Di Vaio’s efforts paid off with a deserved goal in the 46th minute.
Patrice Bernier, who scored the opening goal on a penalty in the 33rd minute, started the play releasing Davy Arnaud up the spine and the veteran wasted little time in playing the Italian forward through on goal. After being stoned by Joe Bendik twice, Di Vaio played around the TFC custodian and hit a far corner ball that proved just before the half that proved to be the winner.
The goal earned the Impact a deserved win in front 37,896 fans as the hosts carried the run of play, controlling possession and being efficient with their chances.
Montreal continually used Matteo Ferrari’s ability to hit the ball out of the back to ignite their attack in the first half and put the Reds under pressure.
The long ball helped lead to the first penalty when Ashtone Morgan went in for, what looked like, a shoulder to shoulder challenge on Andres Romero. After contact referee Baldomero Toldeo, who trailed the play, pointed directly to the spot and Bernier slotted it home to give the Impact a 1-0 lead.
The goal was a harsh turn for TFC as the Reds had recovered from a slow start and started to increase the pressure on the Impact.
After the half, TFC came out with more intent going forward, pushing through the flanks and using the talents to John Bostock and Robert Earnshaw to pressure the steady Impact back line.
Things turned in TFC’s direction in the 67th minute when 11th minute sub Dennis Iapichino, who entered for the injured Alessandro Nesta, made contact with Terry Dunfield as the midfielder made a run into the box. Iapichino looked to grab Dunfield and the midfielder went down to draw the PK and yellow card for the Impact defender.
In a duplicate, studder-step and all, from his week two penalty kick goal against Sporting Kansas City, Robert Earnshaw beat Troy Perkins to pull the Reds within one.
Despite some back and forth play in the final 20 minutes, the Impact were up to the task of holding off TFC and continue their perfect start in 2013.
Here are the match highlights: