MONTREAL, CANADA - JULY 8: Zarek Valentin #19 of the Montreal Impact celebrates his second half goal with teammates during the match against the Columbus Crew at the Saputo Stadium on July 8, 2012 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The Impact defeated the Crew 2-1. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
While the Crew scored and took a second-half lead with their only shot on goal, it was not enough to fight off the Impact and earn a road point or three. An 89th minute penalty for Montreal gave them a 2-1 win in front of 15,118 home fans.
Crew defender Chad Marshall returned to the starting lineup for the first time in eight league games. Columbus lined up in a 4-4-1-1 formation. Kevan George started in the defensive midfielder spot, with Tony Tchani playing in front of him. Chris Birchall and Eddie Gaven started on the wings. Milovan Mirosevic played as a withdrawn forward for the first time this season behind Emilio Renteria. Montreal lined up in a 4-2-3-1.
The Impact were the better team throughout the majority of the game. Columbus' best play came early on. The Crew's game plan was to sit back and counter, and they did that to mild success in the opening 25 minutes. Mirosevic teamed up well with Gaven to get in on goal, but a bad touch lead to an easy save for Impact goalie Donovan Ricketts. Renteria had a half-volley attempt that he drilled over the bar, as well as a free kick that skimmed wide.
More after the jump...Montreal had a couple good chances to take the lead going into the half. Sanna Nyassi was sent in on goal with a nice through ball, but Josh Williams recovered well to block Nyassi's shot attempt. A Marco Di Vaio free kick went wide. Lamar Neagle got on the end of a low cross, but blasted his effort over the bar. Neagle had another chance to score right after the break. Di Vaio lofted a cross that went just over Williams' head. The ball found Neagle, whose open header went wide.
On the back foot once again since coming out of the locker room, it was Columbus who, completely against the run of play, took the lead. Mirosevic ran onto Nemanja Vukovic's corner at the near post, flicking the ball with his head back toward goal. Ricketts got a hand on the shot, but he only helped it on its way to the back of the net.
Upon taking the lead, the Crew's defense dropped back even more. It finally punished them in the 78th minute. Di Vaio passed to Nyassi, who quickly turned and fed the ball wide to right-back Zarek Valentin. Valentin took a great touch toward goal before finishing low and hard to the far post, beating Andy Gruenebaum in the process.
The Crew were still fighting for a point, but their efforts failed them minutes before full time. In the 88th minute, Patrice Bernier played a cheeky ball with the outside of his foot to Justin Mapp as he ran into the box. Mapp took another touch before a shove from Chris Birchall brought him down. Bernier stepped up to take the ensuing PK. He sent the ball low and to the left as Gruenebaum dove to the right, giving Montreal a deserved 2-1 victory.