Koné scores key goal as CF Montreal ousts Orlando in MLS Cup playoff thriller | CBC Sports

CF Montreal has advanced to the next round of the MLS Cup playoffs following a 2-0 win over the Orlando City SC Lions on Sunday night in Montreal.

The squad will now face the winner of Monday’s match between New York City FC and Inter Miami in next Sunday’s Conference semifinal.

Ismaël Koné and Djordje Mihailović were the goal scorers for Montreal in the big win. Koné scored in the 68th minute, while Mihailović added insurance with a penalty well into stoppage time.

Orlando City started the game with an unsurprising low block, conceding long stints of possession and making sure not to lose their shape all while attempting to get under the Montreal players’ skin. This has been a tactic used by many teams who play Montreal on the road, with many earning results by waiting for a break or mistake.

“We knew what they were going to do even before the game, we knew their tactics,” said Mihailović. “The halftime talk was calm and we knew that if we stuck to our plan and kept our emotions in check we would get our chances.”

WATCH | CF Montreal advances to conference semifinals: 

CF Montreal advance to Conference semifinals with win over Orlando

CF Montreal defeat Orlando 2-0 in the opening round of the MLS Cup Playoffs. Ismaël Koné scores in the 68th minute and Djordje Miahilovic adds an insurance goal with a penalty well into stoppage time.

Montreal found success on the flank, making progress into Orlando’s final third, but could not generate a goal.

“The goal today was to maintain our level against adversity and it’s something we did very well,” said Montreal’s head coach Wilfried Nancy. “We as a staff can [keep the team’s emotions in check] but we always want the players to do it on their own and that’s what happened tonight.”

Orlando benefited from the first — and arguably best — chance of the opening frame just moments later. A failed offside trap left Ercan Kara through on goal, but he put the shot over goalkeeper James Pantemis and the bar.

In the final minute of the half, Montreal found more officiating controversy when Lassi Lappalainen was brought down in the box. The referee once again waved for play to continue, angering the crowd even more.

The half would be far from over as Orlando found another golden opportunity only seconds later, but Antonio Carlos was unable to convert, sending the ball wide from only a few yards out.

The second half was more of the same, with Orlando dropping deep and preventing any access to their penalty area.

Their wall would finally break, however, just before the 69th minute when a series of quick passes led to Mihailović finding Koné wide open, who made no mistake.

“If Djordje didn’t pass me that ball, I was going to fight him,” joked Koné. “This is very special for me, and the first time scoring at Stade Saputo is an amazing feeling.”

Even with the lead, Montreal didn’t change their game plan and put everyone behind the ball like most teams do. Instead, they kept possession just as well and were able to play through Orlando’s press on many occasions.

That would pay off nine minutes into stoppage time when that possession created an amazing opportunity that led to Mihailović being brought down in the penalty area. He dispatched the penalty into the bottom right corner, putting the game out of reach.

Orlando City coach Oscar Pareja tipped his cap to the winners.

“First of all, congratulations to Montreal for advancing. They had a good season and today was a good rival,” said Pareja. “Saying that, I thought we had a very good game played by the boys with intensity, discipline and desire for the game.

“We had our chances, especially in the first half. In this kind of game you have to be decisive and you have to finish. The minute that Montreal scored, just one mistake from us defending, which didn’t happen often and that mistake opened the scoring for them and created different gaps for us.

“But I’m very proud of this group, very grateful for the effort of the boys. They made us very proud and they’ve taken this club to a different level and I think our fans and our people should be very proud about this season.”

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