Home MLS Montreal Impact Sibling rivalry: Sanna Nyassi’s goal gives Impact win over Sainey’s Revs

Sibling rivalry: Sanna Nyassi’s goal gives Impact win over Sainey’s Revs

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Fans at Saputo Stadium this evening were treated to a number of rare sights this evening in the game between the Impact and the visiting New England Revolution. Identical twins competed against each other in the 2-1 Montreal win. The Impact also managed to gain, lose, and then retake a lead to put some daylight between themselves and the Massachusetts side, its playoff hopes not yet beyond the realm of mathematical possibility.

“It was a good game because 11 players committed to playing defence,” offered head coach Jesse Marsch.” Giving up a late goal in the half and having to dig in and respond in a good way in the second half was good to see. The emphasis tonight and the response tonight was all about being hard to play against and defending.”

The opening half saw the Impact put four balls into the New England net but the teams went into the interval deadlocked at one goal apiece as the first 45 both began and ended with goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts intersecting with Lady Luck.

New England got its first chance early. Ricketts came out to neutralize an oncoming Revolution player and, while he made the stop, the ball found its way to midfielder Lee Nguyen, who drove it goalward, the ball staying out more by luck than design.

The bulk of the remaining 43 minutes were decidedly in favour of the home side. Sanna Nyassi’s shot from distance required a diving save from New England keeper, Matt Reis, to keep it from its target.

Montreal found the twine for the first time in the 17th minute but striker Marco Di Vaio, who has 22 shots in his last three games, netted one but, to the dismay of most of the 15,615 in attendance, had it called back on an offside.

The other three balls that found the back of the net went in during the 27th and 28th minutes of play and served to make the point that practice makes perfect. Revs defender, Chris Tierney, who had a couple shots in the first half, hauled down Sanna Nyassi in the penalty area and the resulting shot from the spot was taken by Bernier.

Matt Reis, well back in his box, was not ready when the local midfielder put the first one behind him. A second was called back after an Impact player entered a forbidden zone prematurely but the third time was a charm. Abandoning the hesitation step that has served the Impact’s leading scorer well on set pieces this season, Bernier simply rolled his third attempt into the net to the right of Reis to give Montreal the lead on his sixth of the season.

“It didn’t matter how often he stopped the play. I was fixated on putting the ball into the net. I wasn’t thinking about anything else,” said Bernier. “In any case it worked out well because the first two went in and that helped remove any doubts.

“I was fairly confident that if they made him take it 10 times he’d have made it,” said Marsch. “I wasn’t that nervous but I was a bit perplexed as to why the ball kept coming back to the penalty spot.”

The Montreal lead held up until the 44th minute when Nguyen’s shot hit the woodwork, deflected down, off the heel of the airborne Impact keeper and into the back of the net.

Allowing a goal in the closing minutes has in the past signalled letdowns and eventual losses for the Impact on several occasions, but on this night the players came out united, cohesive and determined to get the result they desired.

Continuing to blanket the Revolution’s top scoring threat, Montreal limited Saer Sene to only a pair of shots, only one on target while redoubling its efforts to regain the upper hand. A Mapp cross for Di Vaio was intercepted by Reis in the 66th while a minute later Sanna Nyassi, converting a Mapp pass, earned his third of the year and put his team up for good when he struck from the goalmouth.

“I knew there was no pressure on Justin so I busted my ass to get there and I was at the right spot at the right time,” Nyassi said. ”I feel excited about my performance tonight. The way we played as a team. We stayed compact and battled. We gave up a goal in the last minutes of the first half but we didn’t give up. We went into the locker room determined to stick together and come back strong in the second half and it paid off.”

The Gambian forward’s twin brother, Sainey suited up for New England and subbed in for Sene in the 79th minute, making this evening’s match the first time twins have faced off in MLS competition.

Montreal’s next match is against the Dynamo in Houston on Saturday. They return to Saputo stadium next Tuesday for an international friendly against Olympique Lyon.

THROW–INS – Montreal sits in second place as far as attendance goes with 253,572 through the turnstiles before tonight for an average of 25,357 fans per game. It is averaging 14,217 at the renovated Saputo Stadium, having drawn over 15,000 twice in its five outings there.

In the 10 days since the Impact’s last home game four players have left town – Bryan Arguez (bound for Edmonton) Justin Braun ( Real Salt Lake), Tyson Wahl (Colorado) and Miguel Montano (Deportivo Cali, Colombia) while Swiss defender, Dennis Iapichino has joined the Impact.

Tonight’s match featured a pair of first-year coaches on teams playing their first game against each other but Jesse Marsch and Jay Heaps are not strangers, having faced each other 23 times in their playing days.

The New England Revolution has never won on Canadian soil, posting an overall 0-3-5 record in their jaunts north of the 49th parallel since joining MLS in 2007. It is also without new DP, Jerry Bengtson, acquired on July 5. The Honduran forward has been seconded to his national team as an overage player for the Olympics.


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