Tag Archives: quarterfinal

Canada preps for quarter-final showdown with Czech Republic at world juniors

Canada did the work to top its pool at the world junior men’s hockey championship and earn an advantageous quarterfinal matchup with the Czech Republic.

However, Canada head coach Andre Tourigny said the Czechs finishing fourth in their pool doesn’t make them a pushover.

“We need to remain humble,” the coach said Friday.

Saturday’s other quarter-final matchups will see Slovakia face the U.S., Russia take on Germany, and Sweden battle Finland.

The semis will take place Monday, with the top-seeded winning quarter-final team playing the lowest-seeded team. The second-seeded team will play against the third-seeded team.

The gold and bronze-medal games are Tuesday at Rogers Place.

Quarter-finals are tense affairs that propel a country towards a medal game, and dash medal hopes.

Canada was ousted from medal contention in a quarter-final loss two years ago in Vancouver, where the host country fell 2-1 in overtime to eventual champion Finland.

Canada (4-0) is favoured against the Czech Republic (2-2), but Tourigny points to the Czechs’ 2-0 blanking of Russia in the preliminary round, and their strong five-on-five play in a tough pool.

“The Czechs did us a favour by beating the Russians and showing how good they can be,” Tourigny said. “There’s no way we’ll take them lightly.”

Alex Newhook is ’50-50′ to play in quarters

Canada may be down to a dozen forwards Saturday.

Alex Newhook suffered what looked like a shoulder injury in the first period of Thursday’s 4-1 win over Finland and didn’t skate Friday.

Tourigny called Newhook’s chances of playing Saturday “50-50.”

“If it was today, he would not play,” the coach said.

Connor Zary, who started the tournament as Canada’s 13th forward, will get more ice time if Newhook can’t dress.

The Calgary Flames prospect has talked with retired NHL veteran Shane Doan during the tournament.

Doan, who co-owns Zary’s Kamloops Blazers club team, played for Canada in a Winter Olympics and in five world championships.

“He said ‘no matter what you’ve got to do, you’ve got to keep telling yourself you’re going to be ready. You’ve got to write things down and remember those thing. Those things are little things you’re going to do when that opportunity arises,”‘ Zary said.

“That’s something I kind of took to heart and knew that no matter what, I’m going to get a chance to prove myself.”

Devon Levi a key to Canada’s success

Canada’s speed up front — every forward is an NHL first-round draft pick — and a relentless forecheck has emerged as the host country’s strengths.

Pool A the easier of the two, Canada didn’t get a real measure of itself until facing Finland.

The Finns are capable of engaging Canada in all three zones, but the hosts didn’t let them by dominating puck possession.

Opposing teams haven’t had the puck enough yet to get 20 shots on Canadian starter Devon Levi in a game.

The 19-year-old’s challenge has been staying warm and maintaining concentration through quiet stretches to make saves when needed.

“It can be a be a tough situation when you don’t have a shot for an extended period of time and suddenly have a scoring chance against, or you get buzzed in your zone, or you’re penalty killing and you need to make the difference,” Tourigny said.

“He did a really good job at it so far.”

The Czechs haven’t finished in the medals since a bronze in 2005 and last won the tournament in 2001 in Moscow.

Nine Czechs returned from the squad that lost 5-0 to Sweden in last year’s quarterfinal in Ostrava, Czech Republic.

Big-minute defenceman Michael Krutil returns to the Czech lineup Saturday after serving a one-game suspension for slew-footing.

Krutil’s defensive partner Radek Kucerik spent last season with the Saskatoon Blades and was coached by Canadian assistant coach Mitch Love.

The Czechs split goaltending duties evenly in the preliminary round between Los Angeles Kings draft pick Lukas Parik and second-year netminder Nick Malik.

Parik posted a 30-save shutout against Russia.

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Impact facing uphill battle after dropping CONCACAF quarter-final 1st leg to Olimpia

The Montreal Impact learned the hard way that CONCACAF does not use video review.

The Impact felt they should have been awarded a penalty kick late in a 2-1 defeat to C.D. Olimpia of Honduras in the opening leg of the Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday.

“It’s hard to speak about that in the heat of the moment,” said midfielder Saphir Taider. “We don’t want to focus on it too much. It’s frustrating. It all happened so quickly. We had to regain our composure after that.”

It appeared the Impact (0-1-2) were awarded a penalty in the 81st minute when a header by substitute Anthony Jackson-Hamel went off Maylor Nunez’s arm in the box.

WATCH | Olimpia downs Impact to take opening leg:

Olimpia beats Montreal 2-1 in the opening leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal. 1:30

Referee Adonai Escobedo initially pointed to the spot, to the roaring delight of the 20,243 fans at Olympic Stadium. But after a lengthy discussion with the assistant referee, Escobedo changed his decision.

Unlike Major League Soccer and several top European leagues, there is no video review (VAR) in CONCACAF.

Thierry Henry, who was handed his first defeat as Impact head coach, refused to comment on the no-penalty decision.

“I’m not talking about the refereeing,” he said.

Jozy chimes in

Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore chimed in on social media. “No VAR is a joke,” he tweeted after the game.

“The officials have to improve as the competition improves. It’s 2020 and teams still gettin CONCAF’D. It’s ridiculous,” he said in another tweet.

The return leg is next Tuesday in Honduras, where Montreal will need to win and score at least two goals to stay alive in the competition.

Down 2-0, Henry made a tactical change at halftime that provided an offensive spark. He went from a 5-3-2 formation to a 4-3-3 and brought Orji Okwonkwo into the game.

The move paid instant dividends when Taider scored a sensational goal from 35 yards out in the 47th minute. The midfielder took a bouncing ball from Okwonkwo in stride and fired a perfectly weighted shot that dipped past the diving goalkeeper.

Taider could have tied the game in the 70th with a free kick on the edge of the penalty box but he sent the ball over the bar. Another opportunity in the 76th was wasted when Jackson-Hamel, unmarked in the box, sent his header wide.

‘A bitter taste’

“I’m frustrated,” said Taider. “I just looked over our stats. We dominated them everywhere. We had so many chances. They scored on two chances, two mistakes from us. It leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.”

Olimpia (1-0-2) goalkeeper Edrick Menjivar pulled his groin on a goal kick early in the match and was replaced by substitute ‘keeper Alex Guity. The defending Honduran champions scored off Guity’s ensuing goal kick in the 15th minute.

The ball fell to Leonardo Garrido, who headed it into the path of Jerry Bengtson. On poor coverage by rookie Luis Binks, Bengtson snuck behind the defenders and shot the ball with his first touch. Clement Diop got his hand on it, but not enough.

Instead of sitting back, the visitors kept looking for holes in the Impact back line, especially on the counter.

That second crucial away goal came in the 41st minute. After a poorly taken Impact free kick, Olimpia marched down the field with speed. Jorge Benguche evaded a tackle from Zachary Brault-Guillard with a dummy before beating Diop far side.

‘Schoolyard errors’

“We can’t concede the two goals we did,” said Henry. “Those were schoolyard errors. When you’re trying to come back from two goals down, it’s a big challenge. It’s a knockout game and you’re down 2-0, everything goes quicker.”

It was only the second loss for Montreal on home soil in the Champions League (9-2-3).

Olimpia has the chance to eliminate a second MLS club after taking care of the Seattle Sounders in the round of 16.

“It’s not over,” said Olimpia coach Pedro Troglio through a translator. “There’s 90 minutes to come next week in Honduras. They will be hard those minutes. We need to keep playing the way we did.

“There is still a lot of work to be done.”

The winner of the two-legged aggregate series will face New York City FC or Mexico’s Tigres in the semifinal next month.

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Lafreniere’s return sparks Canada to win over Slovakia in world juniors quarter-final

Canada’s quest for gold remains on track at the world junior hockey championship.

Alexis Lafreniere scored and added an assist in his return from injury as part of a resounding 6-1 victory over Slovakia in the quarter-finals on Thursday.

Barrett Hayton added two goals and an assist for the Canadians, Connor McMichael, Jacob Bernard-Docker and Liam Foudy also scored, and Joel Hofer picked up his third straight win. Dylan Cozens, Jamie Drysdale and Calen Addison each added two assists.

Oliver Okuliar replied for the overmatched Slovaks. Samuel Hlavaj took the loss in goal.

Lafreniere was back in the lineup after missing the last two games with a knee injury suffered in a humiliating 6-0 setback to Russia last Saturday, Canada’s worst defeat in the under-20 tournament’s 44-year history.

It was originally believed the Canadians would automatically get a rematch with the Russians, who beat Switzerland 3-1 earlier Thursday, in the semifinals. But they instead had to wait until later Thursday to find out their next opponent after the International Ice Hockey Federation recently changed its medal-round format — and neglected to update the official website — to a setup that sees teams reseeded after the quarters based on rankings at the event.

Lafreniere took up his usual spot on Canada’s top line with Hayton and Nolan Foote only to see the latter assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct for a check to the head on Slovakia’s Kristian Kovacik just 53 seconds into the first period at Ostravar Arena.

Sporting their black jerseys for a second straight game, the Canadians managed to kill off the penalty, with Hofer making a big save off the rush, and then grabbed a 1-0 lead at 6:47.

Cozens, who replaced Foote on the No. 1 trio, pressured the puck on the forecheck and Lafreniere passed quickly in front to Hayton, who beat Hlavaj for his team-leading fourth goal of the world juniors.

Lafreniere’s return to action looked to be in serious doubt a week ago as the projected No. 1 pick at the 2020 NHL draft and reigning CHL Player of the Year lay in agony on the ice after twisting his left leg on an awkward fall against Russia.

He had to be helped off by teammates, but the 18-year-old from Saint-Eustache, Que., who has 70 points in 32 games with the Rimouski Oceanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this season, watched practice less than 24 hours later minus a knee brace or noticeable limp.

He took part in Canada’s skate Wednesday before the official all-clear was announced a few hours later.

Canada takes control in middle frame

Hlavaj — statistically the QMJHL’s best goalie in 2019-20 with the league-leading Sherbrooke Phoenix — did his best to keep the Slovaks in it, but Canada scored four times in the middle period to put things out of reach.

McMichael bagged his second at 1:21 on a 2-on-1, Bernard-Docker added his first after a nice toe-drag around a sliding defender at 3:42, and Foudy made a slick move on a breakaway at 9:02 for a 4-0 lead.

Canada, which suffered a devastating overtime defeat at this stage of the tournament to the Finns in Vancouver last year, then went to the power play, with Lafreniere taking a pass in the high slot and wiring his second of the tournament at 10:50.

The 17-time gold medallists added a sixth one minute into the third on another man advantage when Hayton buried his fifth.

That spelled the end of the afternoon for Hlavaj, who was replaced by Samuel Vyletelka.

Okuliar, who plays on the same line as Cozens with the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes, broke the shutout bid at 6:10 when he blasted a shot past Hofer.

Without a point in the tournament, 17-year-old Quinton Byfield, who’s expected to go high at June’s draft, hit the post midway through the third.

Canada finished atop Group B with a 3-1 record, while Slovakia’s only victory in Group A was a 3-1 triumph over Kazakhstan.

The Slovaks lost their other three round-robin games by a combined 21-5 scoreline — 8-1 to Finland, 7-2 to Switzerland and 6-2 to Sweden.

Canada hasn’t won the tournament in Europe since 2008, when the Czech Republic last hosted.

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Bianca Andreescu draws prime-time slot for U.S. Open quarter-final

In the most important Grand Slam match of her career, Canada’s Bianca Andreescu has drawn a prime-time slot for her quarter-final matchup at the U.S. Open on Wednesday night.

Fresh off her three-set victory over American wild-card entry Taylor Townsend, the Mississauga, Ont., native will face Belgian Elise Mertens of Belgium at 7 p.m. ET.

Andreescu, seeded 15th, overcame a partisan crowd to beat Townsend 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 on Monday night and advance to the final eight in New York.

WATCH | Andreescu reaches quarter-finals at U.S. Open:

The 19-year-old Canadian battled past American Taylor Townsend 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 under the lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium. 1:51
The 19-year-old resident of Thornhill, Ont., who is making her third appearance at Arthur Ashe Stadium during this tournament, is the first Canadian to make the quarter-finals of the U.S. Open since Patricia Hy-Boulais in 1992.

Mertens, seeded 25th, has yet to drop a set through the first four rounds of the tournament.

Andreescu has shot up the rankings this year, highlighted by her wins at the Indian Wells Masters and the Rogers Cup in Toronto.

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Liverpool builds 2-0 quarter-final lead over Porto

Different round, same comfortable win. Porto must be sick of the sight of Liverpool in the Champions League.

Liverpool built a 2-0 lead over Porto heading into the second leg of their quarter-final thanks to first-half goals by Naby Keita and Roberto Firmino at Anfield on Tuesday.

A year after beating Porto 5-0 on aggregate in the last 16, Liverpool found similar joy against a Portuguese team which is widely regarded as the biggest outsider left in the competition.

Keita’s strike from just inside the area deflected into the top corner off Porto midfielder Oliver Torres to give Liverpool the lead in the fifth minute.

The English side had more chances to score — Mohamed Salah wasted a one-on-one after pouncing on an errant back-pass — before Trent Alexander-Arnold was played through by Jordan Henderson and crossed for Firmino to tap into an empty net from close range in the 26th.

Porto occasionally threatened to score a crucial away goal, with striker Moussa Marega twice denied by goalkeeper Alisson Becker, but Liverpool looks in good shape to reach the semifinals for a second straight year. Last season, Juergen Klopp’s team got to the final, only to lose to Real Madrid.

Salah might count himself fortunate to still be available for the second leg in Porto on April 17 after escaping punishment for a studs-up tackle on the shin of Danilo in the final minutes.

Whichever team advances will next face either Manchester United or Barcelona, who start their quarter-final matchup on Wednesday with the first leg at Old Trafford.

With a newfound defensive strength this season, Liverpool is in with a good chance of winning the Premier League, too. It is in first place, two points ahead of Manchester City.

Tottenham wins despite losing Kane to injury

Son Heung-min filled the void left by Harry Kane’s injury-enforced departure by giving Tottenham a 1-0 win over Manchester City on Tuesday in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final.

Twenty minutes after Kane hobbled off with an apparent left ankle injury, Son netted in the 78th minute to give quadruple-chasing City its first loss in any competition since January.

After receiving a pass on the right from Christian Eriksen, Son’s poor first touch nearly put the ball over the byline, but he just kept it in play. The South Korean then cut the ball back and skipped past Fabian Delph’s challenge before striking a low shot under goalkeeper Ederson.

Son also scored in Tottenham’s first game at its new stadium last week and he now has 18 goals in a season that has seen him miss spells to go on South Korea duty at the Asian Games in August and the Asian Cup in January.

If Kane faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines, Son has already shown he can deputize for the 24-goal striker.

Kane missed seven games across six weeks with damaged ligaments in his left ankle across January and February — a spell when Son scored four goals.

Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris prevented Tottenham from conceding its first goal at the new stadium when he saved a penalty in the 13th minute from Sergio Aguero after a sliding Danny Rose was adjudged to have blocked Raheem Sterling’s shot with his hand.

In an intense game, the Premier League gulf between the sides was not apparent. City is challenging for the title in second place, 16 points ahead of a Tottenham side clinging on to fourth place and the final Champions League spot for next season.

This was Tottenham’s first quarter-final in European football’s elite competition in eight years — the last time a Champions League game was staged on this site in north London before the team was forced to play at Wembley while a new home was built.

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Champions League: Quarter-final draw pits long-time rivals Man U, Barcelona

A new generation of Manchester United players will have to get through Barcelona to win the Champions League.

And Lionel Messi will still be there.

United was drawn Friday to face Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-finals, hosting the first leg on April 10.

Also Friday, Tottenham was drawn to face Manchester City in an all-English pairing, Liverpool will face Porto, and Ajax will meet Juventus. The first legs will be played on April 9-10, with the return games on April 16-17.

Messi scored the last two times the teams met — in the Champions League finals of 2009 and 2011. The 31-year-old Barcelona forward is also the leading scorer in this season's competition with eight goals.

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique also played in the two finals against Man United, where he spent four years early in his career.

Not all the memories are bad for Man United, however.

In the 2008 semifinals, United beat Barcelona before winning its third title. And it was at Camp Nou that current manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored the late, title-winning goal in 1999, against Bayern Munich.

Four English teams reached the last eight for the first time in 10 years, though only one national derby was drawn.

All-British matchup

Tottenham will host Man City in the first leg on April 9, which could be played at Wembley Stadium or at the north London club's soon-to-be-completed new arena. They also play in the Premier League in Manchester less than three days after the second leg.

That pairing brought together the only two quarter-finalists who have never been European champion. The other six have won a combined 21 titles.

Five-time champion Liverpool got a rematch against Porto, the team it beat in the last 16 last season. Back then, Liverpool won 5-0 in Portugal to start its route to the final.

"We know how good we had to be last year," said Liverpool coach Juergen Klopp, dismissing talk of his team getting the easiest opponent. "I could not be further away from thinking it's the best draw because it isn't."

Ronaldo's Juventus facing Ajax

Liverpool, which lost in last year's final to Real Madrid, will host Porto in the first leg on April 9.

Ajax will play Juventus, first in Amsterdam on April 10, in a rematch of two previous finals. Ajax won in 1973, the third of its four European titles, and Juventus won its second title in 1996.

Last year, Cristiano Ronaldo was bought by Juventus, a team which has lost two finals in the past four years, to end that 23-year wait.

"When I was around 10, 12 years old, Cristiano Ronaldo was already one of the best players in the world," Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong said. "So it is nice that I will now face him for real."

In the semifinal pairings, Tottenham or Man City will play either Ajax or Juventus, and Man United or Barcelona will face either Liverpool or Porto, keeping open the possibility of a final between Messi and Ronaldo.

The final is scheduled for June 1 at the Metropolitano Stadium, the home of Atletico Madrid.

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Canada confident ahead of quarter-final game against Finland

Morgan Frost believes Canada's best game is yet to come this year's world junior hockey championship.

The Canadians lost their final round-robin matchup 2-1 in a tight battle with the Russians on New Year’s Eve, but the defending champions have a chance to redeem themselves when they take on Finland on Wednesday.

"It's the quarter-finals so it's kind of win or go home," Frost said. "I think there'll be a lot of emotion but I think you can expect our best game."

The Finns beat Canada 5-2 in pre-tournament action and the Canadians want revenge, Frost said.

"They're obviously a skilled team," said the Philadelphia Flyers prospect. "If you give them too many chances on the power play, they're going to score. So I think we need to stay disciplined and not give up too many scoring chances. They're definitely a dangerous team."

Finland didn't make it past the quarter-finals in last year's tournament, losing in a shootout to the Czech Republic.

Finnish firepower

This time around, the Finnish roster boasts three current NHL players, including Urho Vaakanainen of the Boston Bruins, Nashville Predators forward Eeli Tolvanen and Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Henri Jokiharju.

The team also includes Kaapo Kakko, who's expected to be a high pick in this year's NHL draft.

Still, the squad struggled in the round-robin this year, winning two-of-four games.

Canada won three in a row before the loss to Russia.

The Canadians are confident that they have what it takes to fend of the skilled Finns, especially after seeing them in an exhibition game, Frost said.

"It's good that we played them and we kind of know what to expect now," he said. "We have a game plan going in and we just have to execute it."

Trust the process

Not sticking to the plan was Canada's downfall against Russia on Monday, said head coach Tim Hunter.

"We had guys shooting the puck at the net and we had nobody at the net, so there's a process to scoring goals and we have to stick to that process and we got away from that [Monday] night," he said.

The group will need to play a complete game if they're going to move on to the medal round, Hunter added.

"It's consistency in our effort, trying to play our game, every shift, every period, and that's our goal."

Maxime Comtois is the only returning player from last year's gold medal-winning team. He knows what it's like to have to bounce back from a loss in the tournament. Canada lost a preliminary-round game to the U.S. in a shootout last year.

"We knew what we didn't apply in that game and it's the same thing this year, we know what we did wrong and we hit the reset button and just focus on ourselves," said Canada's captain.

"We have a chance to battle for a medal, stay positive and we have big games coming, stay focused."

Staying focused can be a challenge for young athletes competing on a big stage.

Emotions running high

Emotions are high and the arena is loud, said Michael DiPietro, Canada's starting goaltender.

"Definitely when you step out on the ice and you hear all the fans cheering your heart starts beating a little bit faster than usual," said the Vancouver Canucks prospect.

DiPietro's been using breathing techniques to calm himself and lower his heart rate before games and while he's on the ice.

"It's something that can maybe turn your focus back to the play and back to the game," he said.

Slowing down and recognizing that the quarterfinal match up is just another hockey game will be key for the entire Canadian team, DiPietro said.

"Because the rink's the same size," he said. "We've just got to bring our focus back to that. It's another game to play. We play hockey because it's fun and that's got to be our focus."

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Belgium caps comeback with last-second goal to move into quarter-final

Jan Vertonghen started Belgium's comeback with a crazy, looping header and Nacer Chaldi capped it by finishing off a 10-second, end-to-end attack in the final moments.

It added up to a 3-2 victory over Japan on Monday that gave the Belgians a spot in the World Cup quarter-finals for the second straight tournament.

Trailing 2-0, Vertonghen scored with a header in the 69th minute that appeared to be a cross but somehow dropped in under the bar. Substitute Marouane Fellaini headed in another from Eden Hazard's cross in the 74th.

Chaldi, who came on as a substitute in the 65th, decided it with virtually the last kick of the game in the fourth minute of injury time.

Belgium goalkeeper Thibault Courtois grabbed a corner kick and rolled the ball to Kevin De Bruyne, who dribbled to the top of the centre circle and passed to Thomas Meunier on the right. Meunier one-timed the ball across the area and Romelu Lukaku let it roll by for Chaldi to tap in with his left foot from seven yards.

Belgium is the first team to overturn a two-goal deficit in a World Cup knockout match since West Germany beat England in extra time at the 1970 tournament. The last team do it in regulation was when Portugal beat North Korea in the 1966 quarter-finals.

"It's a test of character. It's a test of the team," Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said. "You have to see how the substitutes react, how the whole team reacts."

Belgium will next face five-time champion Brazil in the quarter-finals on Friday in Kazan.

Japan led through early second-half goals by Genki Haraguchi and Takashi Inui, but they couldn't hold on.

Classic match

"When we were up 2-0, I really wanted to score another goal and we did have opportunities," Japan coach Akira Nishino said. "We were to some extent controlling the game, but Belgium upped their game when they had to."

What was expected to be a mismatch ended up being a classic, partly because of Martinez's decisions to send on Fellaini and Chadli as substitutes in the 65th minute.

"In football, sometimes you want to be perfect," Martinez said. "In the World Cup and especially in the knockout stage, it's about getting through."

Belgium, which narrowly avoided joining Germany, Argentina, Spain and Portugal as big-name eliminations, won all three of its group matches and scored a tournament-leading nine goals at that stage.

Japan narrowly scraped through, advancing ahead of Senegal because it had fewer yellow cards.

The Japanese have now lost in the round of 16 three times without ever reaching the quarter-finals.

Four Japanese players fell on their knees in despair after the final whistle. Hiroki Sakai and Gen Shoji were in tears.

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Toronto FC opens CONCACAF quarter-final with win over Mexico's Tigres

It speaks volumes about where Toronto FC is at these days that the reigning MLS champions are looking forward to tackling Mexican heavyweight Tigres UANL on the road next week.

The fact that Toronto will arrive at Tigres’ 42,000-capacity Estadio Universitario next Tuesday with an edge after Wednesday’s 2-1 win at BMO Field helps. And while Mexico has been a graveyard for MLS teams over the years, TFC believes it has the goods to finish off the Liga MX champion and advance to the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League semifinal.

“We’re confident,” said Toronto midfielder Jonathan Osorio, whose 89th-minute highlight-reel goal decided the first leg of the two-game aggregate series. “Our objective was to leave here with a lead … We’re excited. We’re excited to go there and protect that lead.”

For the 25,587 at BMO Field, the star-studded contest did not disappoint. An enthralling clash of champions built from a slow burn in the first half to all action in the second with a sting in the game’s tail courtesy of an audacious Osorio backheel.

Toronto will head south full of confidence, full value for the win after outshooting its Mexican opposition 12-3 (4-1 in shots on goal) in the second half when all three goals were scored. Tigres, meanwhile, will hope its away goal will play its part in the rematch.

‘It will be tough’

“It’s halftime,” said striker Jozy Altidore, who pulled Toronto even at 1-1 in the 60th minute . “It will be tough. Obviously they got that away goal which makes thing tricky. But I think we’re a team capable of scoring goals. Just as much as they are.”

Toronto manager Greg Vanney called Wednesday’s victory a “good start.”

“I don’t think any of us in the locker-room consider it a win just yet. I think we’ve given ourselves a little bit of an advantage as we go there. We know today was at a certain level of intensity and we know when we go there it will be a whole different level when we get down to Mexico.

“We’re playing the Mexican champions who don’t want to lose this series in front of their home crowd and their home stadium. .. It sets up as a really interesting return leg back to Mexico.”

Both teams will look forward to a better surface than the uneven early March grass at BMO Field. And some warmer weather.

It was two degrees Celsius at kickoff but fans were bundled up. Vanney skipped a coat, however, wearing a suit bolstered by a quilted waistcoat.

The forecast for the evening rematch calls for 13 Celsius, cool by Monterrey standards.

Osorio’s goal came after some extended Toronto pressure with Sebastian Giovinco finding the Canadian in front of goal. The ball was slightly behind him so Osorio pivoted like a ballet dancer and backheeled it home.

Osorio, who called the goal the most important of his career, said his instincts took over as he realized the ball was behind him.

Altidore evened the score

Osorio, who has 13 goals in 142 regular-season MLS starts, had missed a glorious opportunity after Tigres went ahead when he skied his shot from point-blank range from a low Altidore cross.

A key stoppage-time tackle by Chris Mavinga preserved the tie.

Toronto had looked good to open the second half but Chilean international Eduardo Vargas turned the tide, outmuscling Mavinga before slamming a difficult right-footed shot past Alex Bono in the 52nd minute.

Altidore then evened the score, holding off Tigres Brazilian-born captain Juninho to fire a low shot home. Giovinco started the play by finding Marky Delgado, whose quick relay carved open the Mexican defence.

Altidore could have made it 2-1 in the 70th minute but the burly American could not control a wonderful pass from captain Michael Bradley that found him in front of goal. Defender Drew Moor then came close with a header off a Bradley free kick.

And Tigres seemed to escape a late handball in its penalty box.

Commissioner Don Garber has called the CONCACAF club championship a “referendum” for MLS in its bid to become the dominant circuit in North America.

Mexican teams have won the last nine editions of the tournament since it changed to a Champions League format in 2008-09. Mexican squads were runners-up in seven of those finals with Real Salt Lake (2010-11) and the Montreal Impact (2014-15) also making the final.

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World juniors: Canada not buying Switzerland's 'mind games' ahead of quarter-final clash

Canadian captain Dillon Dube couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Swiss head coach Christian Wohlwend was virtually raising the white flag of surrender, saying Switzerland expects to be dominated by Canada in Tuesday’s quarter-final at the world junior hockey championship.

“They’re faster, they’re bigger, they’re stronger, they can shoot better, they can pass better, they can do everything better,” Wohlwend said Sunday after his team dropped a 6-3 decision to the Czech Republic to set up the Canada matchup. “They have how many first rounders? And the rest in the second round? And one in the fourth round that has played the most NHL games?

“We have one in the fourth round too. One. The rest are undrafted.”

Wohlwend did make some good points.

‘Reverse psychology or something’

Canada has seven players who were drafted in the first round and the rest were taken in the second round. The lone exception is defenceman Victor Mete, a fourth-round pick in 2016 who played 27 games for the Montreal Canadiens this season before being loaned to Hockey Canada for the tournament.

Also, Canada beat Switzerland 8-1 on Dec. 22 in a pre-tournament exhibition game. However, Dube was still stunned to hear Wohlwend’s frank assessment of Switzerland’s chances.

“I didn’t know what to think of it at the start,” said Dube, who had two goals and an assist against the Swiss in the exhibition. “I watched it a couple of times, laughing a little bit. To be honest, I think everybody did.

“I think that might have been some reverse psychology or something like that.”

Sam Steel, Dube’s linemate throughout the tournament, agreed that Wohlwend might be trying to lull the Canadians into a false sense of security.

Mete on mend

“I don’t know if he’s trying to play mind games or something,” said Steel, who led Canada with five points in the preliminary round. “It’s funny, but we have to go in there with the same attitude we would with any other team.”

Canada took New Year’s Eve off, opting for a team dinner with Hockey Canada staff and players’ families. Head coach Dominique Ducharme had his team back on the ice Monday to prepare for the Swiss.

Mete was the only player to sit out the practice session. Ducharme said the defenceman was hurt in Friday’s 4-3 shootout loss to the United States.

“He’s good, we just want him 100 per cent and we felt he needed an extra day,” said Ducharme. “He’s going to be in tomorrow.”

Hart to start

Goaltender Carter Hart will start in net for Canada against Switzerland.

Hart has two wins and a shootout loss with a .929 save percentage and 1.95 goals-against average. He’s coming off an 18-save shutout in Canada’s 8-0 rout of Denmark on Saturday that clinched top spot in Group A.

Dube, Steel and Ducharme were all in agreement that despite Wohlwend’s comments they would not take Switzerland lightly.

“I think he’s obviously trying to send a message to his team, he must have said something to them,” said Dube. “I think that’s why he said that we dominated them in the exhibition. They’re going to come out trying to catch us sleeping so that’s why we really have to focus on our game and know what to expect, they’re going to come out hard.

“That doesn’t mean they’re going to sit back and let us roll all over them.”

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CBC | Sports News