MONTREAL — The beauty of Cup soccer is the element of unpredictability. Davids slaying Goliaths and marking club history are one of the reasons the tournament format is so beloved. However, tonight was not one of those nights.
CF Montreal put any ideas of an upset to bed early as they eliminated Canadian Premier League side Forge FC from the Canadian Championships with a comfortable 3-0 win Wednesday evening at Stade Saputo.
Sunusi Ibrahim scored his first career hat trick for Montreal, sending them to the semifinals and setting up a rematch of last year’s final against Toronto FC.
“When I scored the second goal, James [Pantemis] told me at halftime ‘You have to go and score the third goal I don’t care if we have five or six,’” said Ibrahim. “I had to keep working hard to get playing time back. It’s tough because we have a lot of strong and experienced players so all the time I’m learning from them.”
The home side wasted no time getting forward and testing the Forge backline when Mathieu Choinère played Ibrahim through on goal only two minutes into the game. The play forced an excellent save from keeper Triston Henry, but that was only the beginning of the pressure.
Just over ten minutes later, Miljevic played in Sunusi who converted this time.
“I’m mostly happy about the attitude. I wasn’t surprised by the result, and it just reinforced the energy with which we train,” said Montreal head coach Wilfried Nancy. “The way the team played today in terms of offensive concept was very good. They were very patient with the ball and waiting for the good moment.”
It only took another ten minutes for Montreal to double their lead. After being played in by Miljevic once again, Kei Kamara squared it for Ibrahim who converted his brace.
“It was the worst half of football we’ve ever played,” said Forge head coach Bobby Smyrniotis. “They were on script tactically and where they wanted to be. I just think we didn’t do a good job of handling it.”
Montreal didn't let off the gas in the second half, with Ibrahim completing the hat trick four minutes into the second period from a perfect free kick by Miljevic.
The dominant performance not only let Nancy rotate the squad and give younger players more time but took away the need for any of the first team to log minutes in order to get the result.
“MLS is a marathon and today was the time to change the lineup,” said Nancy. “Whether it was a Canadian Championship game or an MLS game I would’ve done the same. It’s good to have rotation but we still have to play well at the end of the day.”
Montreal will play its last game before the international break on Saturday against FC Cincinnati, while Forge returns to CPL action against FC Edmonton on May 31.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2022.
Elias Grigoriadis, The Canadian Press