Jermain Defoe responded to the disappointment of missing out on England’s World Cup squad by netting the opener as Toronto FC beat the New York Red Bulls 2-0.
The 31-year-old scored in the first half at BMO Field, before new signing Luke Moore added a second in the 95th minute to hand the Reds their first win against these opponents in 11 attempts.
Toronto had enjoyed a good week both on the pitch and in the transfer market, having progressed to the final of the Canadian Championships and securing the signatures of Moore and Collen Warner.
The Red Bulls meanwhile were looking to bounce back from a stunning 5-4 defeat at home to the Chicago Fire last Saturday.
The game was being billed as Defoe vs Thierry Henry, and an open first half saw early chances at both ends.
Jonny Steele and Defoe forced smart saves from Joe Bendik and Luis Robles respectively, before New York’s Dax McCarty fired just wide from distance.
Then in the 12th minute, the home side took the lead after Bradley Orr’s magnificent through-ball set Defoe away, and the Red's forward thumped high into the net at the near post.
It could have been two five minutes later as Kyle Bekker’s driven free kick reached Gilberto at the far post, but the Brazilian couldn’t direct the ball back towards goal.
Defoe had another opportunity later in the half when he was found by Bekker’s glorious diagonal pass. The former Tottenham Hotspur man controlled on his chest and turned, but shot over the bar.
The visitors were much improved after the break and should have equalised in the 62nd minute.
Good work from Henry on the left led to a cross which saw Bendik and Lloyd Sam collide. The ball broke to an unmarked Bradley Wright-Phillips, but Major League Soccer’s top-scorer blazed over with the goal gaping.
The Red Bulls then had two penalty appeals turned down following handballs from Orr and Steve Cauldwell, though they were lucky not to concede again in the 70th minute.
Mark Bloom overlapped on the right and got to the by-line to lay the ball back for onrushing substitute Daniel Lovitz, who drilled goal-wards only to be denied by a superb Olave block.
With New York searching for a late leveller they threw men forward in attack, but remained at risk to the Toronto counter.
Bekker might well have doubled the Reds’ lead in stoppage time when Moore slipped the ball to the 23-year-old, but first time shot flew narrowly wide.
Home debutant Moore was then the man to wrap the game up moments later, profiting on a collision between Robles and rookie defender Chris Duvall to tap into an empty net.
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