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Hamdi gives CF Montreal 5-4 come-from-behind win

MONTREAL — If people wondered what the atmosphere would be like at Saputo Stadium on Saturday evening, with 5,000 spectators spread out in the stands, the players on the pitch made sure it was electric.

MONTREAL — If people wondered what the atmosphere would be like at Saputo Stadium on Saturday evening, with 5,000 spectators spread out in the stands, the players on the pitch made sure it was electric. 

CF Montreal erased a two-goal deficit by scoring three times in a 15-minute span late in the second half, registering a 5-4 victory over FC Cincinnati as the Montreal team returned to Saputo Stadium after a 10-month absence.

Ahmed Hamdi was the hero of the match, scoring the tying goal in the 74th minute and the winning goal in the 87th. Mason Toye continued to display his offensive talent with a brace, his fifth and sixth goals of the season.

Joaquin Torres scored the other goal for CF Montreal (6-3-4), which registered a third straight victory and a first in four tries against the club from Ohio.

Torres, making his first start with the team, was CF Montreal's most dynamic player offensively.

With a little luck, he could have finished the game with at least three goals, as two of his shots hit the woodwork of Kenneth Vermeer's goal.

"Not surprised. That's why I started him," said coach Wilfried Nancy of Torres' performance. "I felt this was his moment. We prepared a system to get the best out of him on the pitch.

"Joaquin, what he did tonight, he had done it a couple of times during the practice and when he came in also. It was more a situation about the system, and today we played the same system, but it was the moment to put him tactically."

With the victory, Montreal tied two team records by playing a sixth straight game without a loss (4-0-2) and scoring five goals in the same game. The team had not achieved such a feat since Sept. 20, 2017 in Toronto.

It was also the first time Montreal was part of an MLS encounter where nine goals were scored.

“Craziest game I've ever been a part of, not even close," said Toye. “But first, just to touch on the fans, they were unbelievable. Five thousand, but we were all talking in the locker room afterwards, it sounded like at least 15,000. So I can only imagine when we have a full stadium, it's going to be electric."

Brenner led FC Cincinnati's attack with two goals, an early one in the first half and a second that seemed to stun Montreal in the 46th minute of play.

Haris Medunjanin and Gustavo Valecilla also beat goaltender James Pantemis, who played his first MLS game at Saputo Stadium.

CF Montreal will play its next two games abroad, on July 21 against New York City FC and on July 25 at New England against the Revolution.

Bad luck and clumsiness put CF Montreal in a precarious position even before the first 15 minutes of play.

“Mental errors that we can't make," said Toye. "Because against teams with a bit more quality, the game can be over. It's a lesson learned and thankfully we were able to get three points. But we can't be making those mental errors and little mistakes that we made today."

In the game's second minute, Torres unleashed a powerful shot that hit the crossbar.

Four minutes later, the Ohio side opened the scoring when Medunjanin capitalized on a Victor Wanyama mistake to beat Pantemis.

In the 10th minute, it was Mathieu Choiniere's turn to see his shot hit the post to Vermeer's left. Djordje Mihailovic sent the rebound wide.

Again, it took FC Cincinnati four minutes to hurt Nancy's men. Brenner took advantage of Pantemis' nonchalance in front goal to take the ball away and push it into an empty net.

Seven minutes later, Toye brought CF Montreal back into the game with his fifth goal of the season, heading home a Lassi Lappalainen cross.

Torres followed that up in the 34th minute, jumping on a loose ball after Vermeer blocked a shot from Wanyama.

Vallecilla gave his side a lead in the 42nd after a free kick from Alvaro Barreal.

In first-half stoppage time, Torres was again denied by the post.

Brenner scored early in the second half.

CF Montreal found a way to erase the two-goal deficit, thanks to Toye's second goal, on a 72nd-minute penalty, and Hamdi's first of the game, two minutes later.

Hamdi got the fans out of their seats a second time, in the 87th minute.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 17, 2021.

Michel Lamarche, The Canadian Press