Sitting in the sixth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference of the MLS, the Montreal Impact needed a positive home result Saturday night against the New York Red Bulls.
They got just that with a 3-0 victory at Saputo Stadium, getting first-half goals from Rod Fanni and Bacary Sagna plus a clincher from Ignacio Piatti in second-half stoppage time.
The win could not have come at a better time for the Impact, who had only one victory in their previous six matches. Despite the lack of recent success, Montreal (36 points) still held the final spot for the playoffs, and their edge over the seventh-place New England Revolution grew to six points Saturday.
After Saturday, the Montreal players and their supporters can breathe easier, at least for now.
For the Red Bulls (55 points), the loss puts their standing at the top of the Eastern Conference table in jeopardy. New York holds a one-point lead over Atlanta United, who take on D.C. United on Sunday.
Montreal had not done much on offense in the first half until the 30th minute.
Saphir Taider took a corner kick for the Impact and lofted the ball into the middle of the box. Fanni used both hands to move a Red Bulls defender out of the way, then headed the ball off the far post and into the net.
The goal seemed to energize the Montreal attack, as the Impact's offense work up.
Montreal doubled the lead in the 37th minute.
Daniel Lovitz put the ball in play for Montreal off a free kick from the right side of the field. The kick sailed across the box to Jukka Raitala, who in turn headed the ball back across the goal to a wide open Sagna. The former Arsenal and Manchester City defender took full advantage of the New York defensive lapse, heading it home for the 2-0 lead.
Piatti knocked one in from 10 yards out in the 93rd minute.