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December, 8, 2016

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Toronto dispatch Montreal in extra time

TORONTO -- Toronto will meet Seattle in the Major League Soccer championship decider after beating Montreal 5-2 in extra time on Wednesday to take a 7-5 aggregate victory in the Eastern Conference final.

Montreal had won the first leg 3-2 at home and scored first on Wednesday to establish a two-goal buffer but Toronto responded to make it 5-5 on aggregate at the end of 90 minutes, sending the contest to extra time when Benoit Cheyrou and Tosaint Ricketts scored 2 minutes apart to seal victory.

Toronto will host the Sounders on Dec. 10 in the MLS championship game, becoming the first Canadian team to play for the title.

In extra time, Cheyrou scored with a header in the 98th minute — just a minute after entering the game — when he knocked in Steven Beitashour's cross. Then, Jozy Altidore outmuscled a couple of defenders to send in a cross that Ricketts, beating two more defenders to the ball, swept in.

Dominic Oduro had opened the scoring in the 24th minute for Montreal, but the Impact's two-goal aggregate advantage did not even last until halftime, as Armando Cooper and Altidore scored to make it 4-4 overall, with an away goals edge to Toronto.

But in the 53rd minute, the Impact's Ignacio Piatti made it 2-2 on the night with the vital second away goal to put the visitors up 5-4 on aggregate. Substitute Johan Venegas found him behind the defense. The ball bounced off either Piatti or defender Nick Hagglund, leaving Toronto fans to watch in pain as it trickled slowly into the net.

Hagglund made up for that with a superb header in the 68th minute from a Justin Morrow cross, tying the scores on aggregate and with neither team holding an away-goal advantage. That deadlock remained through to extra time.

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