Federico Higuain’s two assists lead the Columbus Crew’s comeback at home on Saturday night, beating the Montreal Impact, 2-1.
Both Columbus and Montreal lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Nemanja Vukovic was reinstalled at his former left-back starting position for the Crew, while Andy Gruenebaum returned in goal after missing the last game due to a back injury. The other nine starters remained the same.
The game started off rather slow. The Crew had a very good shout for a penalty in the 28th minute after Jairo Arrieta hit Nelson Rivas’ outstretched arm in the box while trying to flick the ball around him. In the next couple of minutes, Gruenebaum made two good saves, including a one-on-one stop on Lamar Neagle.
Columbus started off the second half with a bang. In the 47th minute, Arrieta collected a pass at the top of the box and sent the ball wide to an onrushing Nemanja Vukovic. The ball bounced up perfectly for Vukovic, who ripped a left-footed shot that look destined for the top-right corner. However, Montreal goalie Troy Perkins made a diving save, tipping the ball over the crossbar with his fingertips. On the ensuing corner kick, Higuain’s delivery found Eddie Gaven at the far post. Gaven’s header forced yet another diving save from Perkins.
Although the Crew looked like the more dangerous team, it was the Impact who scored the first goal. In the 72nd minute, Columbus substitute Justin Meram gave the ball away near midfield. Sanna Nyassi received a pass on the left side of midfield and dribbled all the way into the box, beating two Crew players on his way. Nyassi laid the ball back to Felipe Martins, who turned and played a pass to Marco Di Vaio. Vukovic made a lunging attempt to intercept, but only helped the ball on its way to Di Vaio. Gruenebaum came off his line to cut down the shooting angle, but Di Vaio simply chipped the ball over him and into the net, giving Montreal the lead.
However, Columbus has Federico Higuain. The Crew earned a free kick near the left side of the field. Higuain served in a bending ball. Defender Chad Marshall was the first to the ball, glancing it toward goal and just over Perkins’ hands, tying the game.
Even though they must have been exhausted after so many games in so few days, Columbus kept pushing for a game winner. In the 90th minute, Justin Meram broke through on goal. He tried to place his shot into the right corner, but Perkins made the save, parrying the ball just wide of Emilio Renteria’s waiting right foot.
The game seemed destined to end deadlocked, but (like I mentioned before) Columbus has Federico Higuain. Vukovic played a long ball to the Argentine, whose first touch was sublime and took him past Impact defender and former World Cup winner Alessandro Nesta. Higuain dribbled down the left flank, cut the ball back to his right, and sent in a cross. Renteria met the cross with his head, skimming the ball off his bald head and looping it up and over Perkins’ hands. The 93rd minute goal was the deciding factor, moving the Crew into playoff position with a 2-1 victory.