Toronto need penalties to see off resolute Whitecaps

Toronto FC advanced to the Amway Canadian Championship final after beating the Vancouver Whitecaps 5-3 in a penalty shootout at BC Place last night.

The pair couldn’t be separated, with the aggregate score 3-3 after 210 minutes of action over the two legs, and penalties were needed to send Toronto through to face the Montreal Impact in the final.

Jermain Defoe didn’t feature as he watched on from the bench, as Luke Moore started his first game for the club alongside Brazilian striker Gilberto.

Vancouver trailed 2-1 from the first-leg, and their task got a lot more difficult inside the opening five minutes, as Toronto took an early lead through Doneil Henry.

Henry looked to be offside as he tapped in, following a Michael Bradley free-kick that was headed onto the bar by Whitecaps defender Nick Hagglund.

The early setback meant Vancouver had to attack Toronto, and they did just that, registering 25 shots during the game.

They got the equaliser just before halftime, as Erik Hurtado’s strike levelled it up following a great chip over the defence by Chilean midfielder Pedro Morales.

The Whitecaps pressed for the second goal that would tie the aggregate score and Kekuta Manneh had a good chance to do so, but for Reds goalkeeper Joe Bendik, who charged down the young Gambian.

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(Photo: Joe Bendik made some vital saves to keep Toronto in the game)

Vancouver eventually got the goal they desperately searched for, as Henry brought down Hurtado in the box to allow Morales to score from the penalty spot.

Toronto had the best chances to win the match in extra-time but neither side could get that elusive goal and penalties were needed to decide the tie.

The Reds scored all five of their penalties to advance, with Kekuta Manneh the unlucky Whitecap to miss, as Joe Bendik saved another one of his efforts.

Toronto will face Montreal in the two-legged final starting in two weeks as they aim to get their hands on their fifth Canadian Championship title against the current holders.

The Impact edged past FC Edmonton in the final seconds of the other semi-final, winning 4-2 on the night, with the winner coming from a controversial penalty in the 97th minute to send the MLS club through 5-4 on aggregate.


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