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The smallest player on the field made a big splash on Saturday afternoon for CF Montréal.
Joaquin Torres, a second-half substitute, scored in the 82nd minute, leading the home side to a 2-1 victory over Atlanta United in front of over 15,000 spectators at the Saputo Stadium.
Kamal Miller, who opened the scoring in the fourth, was the catalyst for the winning goal. After a great individual effort by the Canadian international defender, Miller crossed to the six-yard area, from where he was headed by Torres. The midfielder is listed at 5ft-5 and 135lbs.
Despite Miller’s early goal, the visitors controlled most of the game – at least in the first half – and it was only a matter of time before Marcelino Moreno scored in the 51st.
The victory improved CFM’s record to 4-3-2. The club also equaled a franchise record with their sixth consecutive match unbeaten. It was the fourth time that CF Montréal were unbeaten in six games, most recently last season.
Atlanta United saw their record drop to 3-4-2. The club have not won in Montreal since 2018 and are now four games without a win, with two goals.
For the second consecutive game at home, CFM started fast, this time with a set piece.
The home team received a free kick, which is normally taken by Djordje Mihailovic. This time, however, Ahmed Hamdi ran for the ball, meaning he was going to catch it, and this may have led to some temporary hesitation on Atlanta United’s part.
The kick, in fact, was given by Mihailovic. Miller came out of nowhere to head the ball past Bobby Shuttleworth. It was the Canadian defender’s first goal of the season, while it was Mihailovic’s third assist.
It would be one of the few offensive incursions of CFM in the first half, as the team was completely defeated.
In the 11th, in a 21-yard free kick, Thiago Almada was low. But Sebastian Breza saw it at the last moment and deflected the blow with his left hand, showing tremendous reaction and instinct.
Almada came close again on the 19th. His long shot missed Breza’s top left corner.
Joel Waterman came close, from a corner, in the 20’s, but it was a rare scoring opportunity. Instead, it was up to Breza to save CFM again on the 29th, stopping an attempt by Moreno.
Three minutes later, in a free-kick from Moreno, Breza made a spectacular stop, diving to the right and fully stretching his body.
The visitors undoubtedly went into the locker room at half-time shaking their heads, so totally dominating and dictating the game. Atlanta United had nearly 73% of ball possession in the first 45 minutes as they edged out CFM 7-5. Atlanta was clearly faster with the balls and was finding lots of pockets of space.
The CFM coach made a substitution early in the second half, with Torres replacing Hamdi, who recently returned from an ankle injury.
Even so, United scored the equalizing goal on Moreno’s foot. He took the ball out of his chest, hesitated, then shot low to Alistair Johnston, who deflected the crossbar to Breza’s right before rolling into the net.
Breza and CFM are still looking for the first game without conceding this season.
CF Montreal returns to action next Saturday afternoon, again at home, hosting Orlando City.
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