Toronto Takes A Stranglehold
Two goals from captain Maicon Santos and another from Alan Gordon helped Toronto FC to a 3-0 clean sheet victory over 10-man FC Edmonton in the first leg of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship semifinal.
The match took a turn in Toronto’s favour at the 23rd minute when Shaun Saiko crashed into Reds’ midfielder Oscar Cordon on a 50-50 ball. Saiko was late on arrival and earned a straight red card from referee Paul Ward due to the vicious nature of his challenge.
Maicon nearly doubled his tally two minutes from half but his header from a Mikael Yourassowsky cross hit the underside of the crossbar.
Toronto wouldn’t be denied the second goal at the 47th minute however, when Plata’s pass put Gordon through on goal. The big centre forward was stopped on the first approach, but slotted home the rebound on Cordon’s follow up shot putting the Reds up 2-0.
Maicon’s second arrived at the 61st minute and it was a gift from Edmonton keeper Rein Baart, whose clearance landed right on the foot of the TFC captain. The Brazilian strolled toward goal and neatly finished past the Dutch keeper to give Toronto the three-goal advantage.
Prior to the red card to Saiko, Edmonton gave Toronto a scare with a free kick at the 12th minute that whistled past Stefan Frei’s far post unexpectedly.
Toronto had the best chance from open play prior to the goalfest when a well crafted one-two by Plata and Ricard Eckersley in his first start for Toronto created chaos inside the Edmonton box. Eckersley found space and picked out Cordon, but the teenager was unable to wrap a foot around the ball with the goal at his mercy.
Toronto will host the return leg against Edmonton on May 4 at BMO Field - TICKETS HERE - with a 3-0 aggregate lead. The winner of this knockout round will play either Vancouver or Montreal for a spot in the 2011/12 CONCACAF Champions League preliminary round. Vancouver beat Montreal 1-0 in the first leg of their series away to Saputo Stadium.
Toronto – Frei, Borman, Harden, Williams, Eckersley (Gargan), Tchani, Cordon, Maicon, Yourassowsky, Gordon (Peterson), Plata (Soolsma).