Akinola Scores Hat-Trick to Lead Toronto FC Past Rivals Montreal Impact
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Thursday, July 16, 2020
Orlando, FL--- Toronto FC homegrown player, Ayo Akinola, put in a Man of the Match performance and continued his incredible form by scoring a hat-trick to lead the team to a 4-3 victory over their rivals Montreal Impact, securing the club's first win of the MLS is Back Tournament and a crucial three points in Group C.
Toronto FC were looking to bounce back from Monday’s draw to DC United, which saw them give up the 2-0 lead in the second half and losing out on the full three points in the opening match.
Toronto head coach Greg Vanney went the same formation as Monday’s match with one adjustment on the backline; Quentin Westberg starting in-goal, Auro Jr., Omar Gonzalez, Chris Mavinga, and Richie Laryea on the backline, Marky Delgado and captain Michael Bradley as the two central defensive midfielders, Tsubasa Endoh, Alejandro Pozuelo, and Pablo Piatti as the three attacking midfielders, and Ayo Akinola getting his second straight start as the lone striker.
It did not take very long for Toronto to get on the scoresheet as Laryea received a through ball from Pozuelo and then maneuvered his way around Impact midfielder Shamit Shome, before finishing with a nicely placed strike past Clement Diop for his first goal of the tournament. Laryea started tonight’s match in place of Justin Morrow, who was dealing with an injury sustained in Monday’s match. Laryea getting on the scoresheet and continuing to perform well is a great sign because it will allow Morrow to take his time to recover and not feel the need to rush back into the lineup.
Toronto’s lead was short-lived as the Impact caught them off guard, when Emanuel Maciel made an excellent pass to Romell Quioto, who then beat Westberg to even it up at 1-1 in the 14th minute.
Ayo Akinola, who took advantage of his opportunity by scoring two goals in Monday’s match, continued to impress by giving Toronto the 2-1 lead in the 25th minute after some great link up play by Toronto’s midfielders led to Piatti finding Akinola, who received the ball and struck in the back of the net for his third goal of the tournament.
Similar to Toronto’s lead earlier in the half, Montreal would capitalize on yet another opportunity to tie it up at 2-2 after a poorly timed challenge by Mavinga led to a penalty kick, which Saphir Taider successfully put in the net. Fortunately for Toronto, they would score immediately after kick-off, with Akinola once again getting the brace to improve his goal tally to 4 goals in two matches.
The second half did not see as many goals, but there was still plenty of open space with the Impact forced to play more of an attacking style if they wanted to even up the match and secure a point, which tested Toronto’s resilience because they had to weather the storm on a few occasions, but they remain structured defensively for the most part as they wanted to avoid experiencing the same fate as Monday.
Montreal's aggressive attacking formation left them vulnerable at times and allowed Toronto to take advantage on the counter-attack, when Akinola used his strength to free up space and found himself on a breakaway opportunity with one defender trailing and chipped the ball past Diop to complete the hat-trick.
Toronto did not cruise to a finish however, as Taider was successful from the penalty spot once again to put Montreal within one goal and provide his team with one last opportunity to tie it up with one minute left to play. Luckily for Toronto, they were able to weather the final burst of offense to secure the victory and three points in Group C.
Toronto FC are back in action Tuesday at 9am, when they take on New England Revolution to close out their group stage play, before setting their sights on the knockout round.
Photo Credit: Toronto FC