The Vancouver Whitecaps and Toronto FC opened the Canadian Championship final in exciting fashion on Wednesday night, drawing 1-1 on goals by TFC's Ryan Johnson and Vancouver striker Eric Hassli.
The first half was an uneventful one in terms of goalscoring, with the Whitecaps gaining a bit of an early edge in possession, but TFC held on strong. As the opening stanza progressed, the visitors eventually became more adventurous, and Toronto managed to test Joe Cannon a handful of times.
Vancouver was equally committed in the attack and TFC 'keeper Milos Kocic was called upon several times in the first 45 minutes. Despite the increasingly wide-open play between the two sides, there was nothing to show for it on the scoresheet as the referee blew the whistle for halftime.
The second half started off in much the same fashion, with the teams trading possession but not getting much in the way of quality scoring chances. The match started to open up even more as each side looked for the first strike, and in the 66th minute Johnson met a floating Julian de Guzman cross and calmly headed it past Cannon for the crucial away goal.
Johnson's opener gave life to the visitors, who found more freedom to attack as Vancouver spread the play in hopes of finding an equalizer. TFC nearly punished the hosts again, getting a couple of near-chances that were stopped by Cannon.
Toronto looked to be cruising to a slender victory, but Hassli - who came on as a second half substitute - brought BC Place to life with a stoppage time rocket that nearly broke Kocic's goal. The big Frenchman hammered home a cross in breath-taking fashion and gave Vancouver a lifeline, as both teams head to BMO Field next week for the second leg.
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