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Lassiter, Ibrahim help Montreal end skid with win over D.C.

Sunusi Ibrahim CF Montreal Sunusi Ibrahim - The Canadian Press

MONTREAL — CF Montreal’s winless skid may be over, but head coach Laurent Courtois wants his squad to remember what it felt like.

Ariel Lassiter had a goal and two assists and Sunusi Ibrahim scored twice as Montreal won its first game since April 13 with a 4-2 victory over D.C. United in Major League Soccer play Wednesday night.

The victory ended a nine-game winless run in all competitions. The skid included a 5-1 loss to archrival Toronto FC in MLS and being knocked out of the Canadian Championship by lower-tier Forge FC.

With those results in mind, Courtois told his players to suppress their celebrations post-game.

"I still feel like (crap) about what happened against Toronto and Forge,” Courtois said. "That was my message.

“The Toronto and Forge experience was really hurtful for a lot of people and I made sure that the guys don't forget."

Lassiter echoed his coach’s words but didn’t downplay the effect winning has on the team’s morale.

"Winning changes everything, winning changes the outlook of a locker room and the mentality,” he said. “It's the victory, the three points that we need to go into Philadelphia (on Saturday) to get points there and then to finish before the international break on a high."

Lassiter opened the scoring in the sixth minute to get the home side on the front foot before an announced crowd of 19,619 at Saputo Stadium. Mathieu Choiniere also scored for Montreal (4-7-4).

Belgium international Christian Benteke scored both goals for D.C. (4-6-6) in its fourth straight game without a victory.

The six-foot-three Benteke entered the match tied for second in league scoring. The 33-year-old has scored 13 of United’s 23 goals this season.

"He's a beast," Montreal captain Samuel Piette said. “Even though he's big and tall, you know the quality that he has with his feet is real too. For me he's the perfect striker. And someone obviously that I would love in my team."

D.C. defeated Montreal 1-0 in Washington on March 30 courtesy of a late winner from Pedro Santos.

On Wednesday, the score was 3-2 for Montreal after a thrilling first half that saw D.C. go down to 10 men as defender Matti Peltola picked up two yellow cards.

Montreal’s Jules-Anthony Vilsaint picked off a costly giveaway from Peltola to go on a partial break. He then laid the ball across the box to Lassiter, who beat goalkeeper Alex Bono between the legs for his third of the season to kick things off.

After his hot start, Vilsaint exited in the 19th minute when he appeared to injure his leg while running on the counterattack and walked off the pitch in distress.

“Not great for Jules, we haven’t been able to get a consistent run in and he was in good form again,” Courtois said. “It’s tough for him, it’s tough for us.”

Benteke evened the score in the 29th minute while Montreal’s Gabriele Corbo was on the ground injured in the middle of the box.

Benteke, who had pushed Piette into Corbo, took full advantage by tipping a volley over Jonathan Sirois.

Montreal responded with back-to-back goals. Ibrahim, who came on for Vilsaint, connected on a curling cross from Ruan in the 34th minute.

Choiniere followed it up in the 38th by blasting a shot into the bottom corner after Lassiter teed him up on a set piece at the edge of the box.

Benteke brought one back when he hammered a half-volley over Sirois in the 40th minute.

He became the second player in United history with four multi-goal games in his first 15 games of a campaign. Jaime Moreno, in 1997, was the other.

Peltola put D.C. down a man three minutes into first-half injury time when he appeared to elbow Ruan on the break to receive a red card.

"The red card helped, especially that we're always in the lead,” Lassiter said. “We knew that D.C. was going to be a very physical team, very direct team.

"The red card helped us out a bit and we have to take advantage in moments like that."

Montreal controlled most of the play in the second half and finally doubled its lead in the 73rd minute with Ibrahim’s second of the night.

Lassiter juked out D.C.’s Lucas Bartlett before slotting a pass through United’s box to find Ibrahim at the back door.

D.C. failed to test Sirois with a quality chance as Montreal had the edge in possession through the rest of the match.


Montreal: Visits the Philadelphia Union on Saturday.

D.C.: Hosts Toronto FC on Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 29, 2024.