June 25th, 2024

Martinez leads CF Montreal to 2-1 win over FC Cincinnati in long-awaited home opener

By Daniel Rainbird, The Canadian Press on April 13, 2024.

CF Montreal's Ruan, left, rushes forward with the ball During first half MLS soccer action against FC Cincinnati, in Montreal, Saturday, April 13, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter McCabe

MONTREAL – Marquee signing Josef Martinez had a goal and an assist as CF Montreal defeated FC Cincinnati 2-1 in its long-awaited Major League Soccer home opener Saturday.

The 30-year-old Martinez – a former MLS MVP who joined Montreal during the off-season – came on as a substitute in the 26th minute for injured striker Matias Coccaro. He made a strong first impression on the over 19,000 fans who braved the weather on a rainy, 4 C night at Stade Saputo.

After opening the scoring in the first half, Martinez set up Ariel Lassiter for the winning goal as Montreal (3-3-1) snapped a three-game losing streak. Montreal was coming off a 5-0 loss to Seattle Sounders FC to wrap up a season-opening six-game road trip.

Yuya Kubo scored for Cincinnati (3-2-3), which lost its second game in a row and its first on the road this season.

Alec Kann started in goal as Cincinnati was missing starting goalkeeper Roman Celentano for a second straight game due to an ankle injury. Defender London Aghedo (leg) also missed the match.

Forwards Mahala Opoku (ankle) and Jules-Anthony Vilsaint (knee) were out for Montreal. Nathan Saliba was suspended after receiving a red card against Seattle.

Coccaro – the team’s leading goal scorer with three this season – exited in the 26th minute after drawing a tackle from Luca Orellano earlier in the match, appearing to injure his right leg. Orellano received a yellow card on the play.

Martinez controlled a cross from Raheem Edwards in the box before slotting a shot into the bottom corner with his left foot, putting Montreal up 1-0 in first-half injury time with his second of the campaign.

Cincinnati evened the score in the 58th minute as Kubo calmly placed a chance past Montreal goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois after star midfielder Luciano Acosta sent him in alone. Acosta, last year’s league MVP, has two goals and four assists this season.

Lassiter quickly responded in 62nd, burying a feed from Martinez past Kann as Montreal regained the lead.

Cincinnati pushed back and controlled most of the ball in the final half-hour, but couldn’t get another goal past Sirois.

Montreal dominated the first half, holding 54.4 per cent of the possession with 10 shot attempts to Cincinnati’s two after a chippy first 45 minutes that featured five yellow cards.

The scoring chances started early as Ruan blasted a shot off the post in the ninth minute after a give-and-go with Mathieu Choiniere, who found the Brazilian wingback running into the box.

Lassiter and Bryce Duke, who drove Montreal’s offence through most of the first half, connected on an exchange in the 17th minute. Lassiter, however, fired his shot wide.

UP NEXT

Cincinnati: Visits Atlanta United next Saturday.

Montreal: Hosts Orlando City SC next Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 13, 2024.

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