New York City's Talles Magno scored a second-half penalty as the MLS champions defeated CF Montreal 3-1 on Sunday
Montreal (AFP) - Reigning MLS Cup champions New York City FC produced a clinical masterclass to reach the Eastern Conference playoff finals with a 3-1 victory over CF Montreal on Sunday.
Goals from Maxi Moralez, Heber and Talles Magno secured a deserved win for New York, who will now face Philadelphia Union next weekend for a place in Major League Soccer’s championship game – a repeat of last season’s Eastern Conference final.
The victory was no less than manager Nick Cushing’s well-organised New York side deserved in front of Montreal’s expectant Stade Saputo home crowd.
New York got off to a dream start with a cleverly worked goal through Argentinian midfield veteran Moralez on six minutes.
Brazilian winger Gabriel Pereira worked a clever one-two down the right flank and whipped in a low cross which Moralez controlled before calmly burying into the roof of the net.
Montreal responded well to that early setback and dominated possession for long periods through the remainder of the half.
However despite carving out a string of promising openings, Montreal were thwarted by a string of saves from New York goalkeeper and captain Sean Johnson.
Johnson produced a magnificent save in the 10th minute, diving low to his left to parry away a firm header by Montreal striker Kei Kamara.
That near miss came at a cost for New York, with centre-back Maxime Chanot forced to leave the field after appearing to injure his groin as he stretched to challenge Kamara.
Six minutes later City went close again, with Kamara meeting Alistair Johnston’s cross in acres of space only to see his header cannon back off an upright.
Johnson then made another fine reflex save, diving to his right to deny Ismael Kone’s header in the 32nd minute.
New York did well to absorb the pressure without conceding and on the stroke of half-time doubled their lead with a counter-attack launched deep inside their own half by Santiago Rodriguez.
Rodriguez surged forward before picking out Heber with a perfectly weighted pass which the Brazilian forward tucked away to make it 2-0.
New York effectively sealed victory midway through the second half when Montreal goalkeeper James Pantemis rushed off his line and brought down Pereira.
Substitute Talles Magno stepped up to coolly roll in the spot-kick to leave New York City firmly in control.
Djordje Mihailovic grabbed a consolation for Montreal in the 85th minute but it was too little too late.