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Toronto FC beats semi-pro CS Saint-Laurent 3-0 in the Canadian Championship

Toronto FC beats semi-pro CS Saint-Laurent 3-0 in the Canadian Championship

By Daniel Rainbird, The Canadian Press on May 8, 2024.

Toronto FC beats semi-pro CS Saint-Laurent 3-0 in the Canadian ChampionshipToronto FC beats semi-pro CS Saint-Laurent 3-0 in the Canadian ChampionshipCS Saint-Laurent’s goalkeeper Konstantinos Maniatis stops Toronto FC’s Deandre Kerr (29) during the Canadian Championship quarter-final in Montreal, Wednesday, May 8, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

MONTREAL — Matty Longstaff broke a deadlock in the 50th minute and Toronto FC defeated semi-pro CS Saint-Laurent 3-0 on Wednesday in the opening game of their Canadian Championship quarterfinal.

Longstaff fired a shot past goalkeeper Kosta Maniatis into the top right corner after a back pass from Cassius Mailula in the penalty area.

Deandre Kerr scored in the 59th minute and Federico Bernardeschi, who came on as a substitute in the second half, scored from a free kick in the 76th as Toronto tempered Saint-Laurent’s Cinderella point.

Goalkeeper Luka Gavran deserved the clean sheet.

Saint-Laurent upset Canadian Premier League side Halifax Wanderers FC 2-2 (5-3) in a penalty shootout last Thursday to set up the match against Major League Soccer’s heavily favored TFC.

The Ligue 1 Quebec champions were the first team from the league to reach this stage of the competition.

An announced attendance of 6,482 fans – including some lighting flares in the stands – cheered at Saint-Laurent’s every touch and approval on a rainy 9 degree Celsius evening at Complexe sportif Claude-Robillard.

Many Saint-Laurent players combine school and up to two jobs while training four times a week.

Meanwhile, Italian stars Lorenzo Insigne and Bernardeschi earned $15.4 million and $6.3 million, respectively, for Toronto last season.

The second leg is on May 21 at BMO Field and the winner will meet CF Montreal of the MLS or Forge FC of the CPL in the semi-finals. The two teams are tied 1-1 on aggregate after the first leg.

Atletico Ottawa and Pacific FC of the CPL drew 0-0 on Wednesday.

TFC made eight changes from the starting eleven that defeated FC Dallas 3-1 on Saturday. Captain and former Canadian national team player Jonathan Osorio headlined the starters.

Toronto dispatched semi-pro Simcoe County Rovers of League1 Ontario 5-0 to advance to the quarterfinals.

Saint-Laurent gave his fans much to celebrate by keeping TFC off the scoresheet in the first half. Toronto dominated with 66 percent possession, but only led shot attempts 10-9.

Center back Nathan Goulet prevented Toronto from taking an early lead with a goal-line clearance in the seventh minute. Osorio shot toward an open net after Maniatis dove to make the save, but Goulet denied it.

Maniatis stopped Kerr during a partial break in the 13th minute as the crowd erupted.

Saint-Laurent then started to increase the pressure. Oussama Boughanmi fired a free kick from a dangerous area over the crossbar in the 23rd minute.

Loïc Kwemi had another chance from the edge of the penalty area in the 41st, but it also sailed over the net.

After Longstaff opened the scoring, Kwemi applied pressure with an effort that appeared to hit a defender’s hand but was not called. Toronto went on the counterattack and Kerr scored with a shot off the post.

Toronto increased its lead when Bernardeschi’s free kick fooled Maniatis.

Saint-Laurent captain Wesley Wandje had a golden opportunity for Saint-Laurent in the 81st minute, but could not beat Gavran.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 8, 2024.