Patrice Bernier scores as Impact down TFC 3-0 in all-Canadian MLS playoff game

Patrice Bernier scores as Impact down TFC 3-0 in all-Canadian MLS playoff game

Main pic: Patrice Bernier of the Montreal Impact converts a penalty kick against New England Revolution during a Major League Soccer (MLS) game played in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on 8 September 2013. Photo credit: md.faisalzaman.

MONTREAL — Patrice Bernier, Ignacio Piatti and Didier Drogba scored in the first half as the Montreal Impact downed Toronto FC 3-0 in the knockout round of the Major League Soccer playoffs on Thursday night.

The Impact will play host to the Columbus Crew in the opening leg of a two-game, total goals Eastern Conference semifinal on Sunday.

The first MLS playoff game between two Canadian sides became a one-sided dud when Montreal dominated the first half and shut down TFC the rest of the way.

Montreal earned home-field advantage for the knockout round with a 2-1 win over TFC on Sunday at Saputo Stadium. It gave the club third place in the conference and dropped Toronto to sixth.

TFC was in its first trip to the MLS playoffs, while Montreal played it’s first home post-season game after losing a knockout round game 3-0 in Houston in 2013.

A boisterous crowd of 18,069, including MLS commissioner Don Garber, saw Montreal come out with high energy from the outset and put TFC on their heels.

Bernier, who found new life and more playing time when Mauro Biello replaced Frank Klopas as coach in August, opened the scoring in the 18th minute on a counterattack. Piatti sent Bernier in alone for a side foot shot past Chris Konopka.

It was the Brossard, Que. native’s first goal since 2013. He also got a standing ovation when he was subbed out for fellow Canadian Kyle Bekker in the 76th minute.

TFC defender Josh Williams slipped on the grass and let an Ahmed Kantari pass roll by to Piatti for an easy goal in the 34th minute.

But the big bell that was recently installed behind the east goal rang the loudest when Drogba, with his 12th goal in as many games since joining the Impact, scored five minutes later on a pass from Bernier. The Impact captain just had a chance cleared off the line by Justin Morrow when he recovered the ball and lifted it to Drogba at the far post.

TFC struggled to create chances. The Impact did a particularly good job of limiting the chances for Sebastian Giovinco, who had an opportunity nine minutes in but was in too close on goalie Evan Bush.

Bush needed a diving, one-handed save on a Giovinco free kick in the 50th.

The Impact made two changes to Sunday’s starting lineup, sending Bernier in for Johan Venegas in an attacking midfield role and Dilly Duka for Dominic Oduro.

TFC kept the same lineup, subbing Kantari off for Eriq Zavaleta at half time.

Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press

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