WINNIPEG – A pair of second leg away goals guaranteed HFX Wanderers a spot in the next round of the Canadian Championship on Wednesday, sending the visitors past Valour FC 2-0, 4-1 on aggregate in their Qualifying Round 2 tie.
The Wanderers will now progress to play USL Championship side Ottawa Fury FC in Qualifying Round 3, with the first leg set for July 10 at Wanderers Grounds.
Both teams had promising stretches in the first half despite going scoreless. Valour held the majority of possession, slicing HFX’s defence and generating several chances in the box. The visiting Wanderers side looked good on the counter, too, with attackers Garcia and Vincent Lamy both getting decent looks at goal.
Valour’s Michael Petrasso left the match at halftime after pulling up in stoppage time with a leg injury. Valour’s standout winger had missed competitive action earlier in the season with a hamstring injury.
Despite the chances, HFX scored the lone goal of the game off a short-angle free kick from Mohamed Kourouma in the 57th minute. The winger’s left-footed spot-kick along the left side of the box was directed towards the near post, rather than into the box, and beat Valour goalkeeper Tyson Farago for a crucial away goal.
Valour, then needing to score two goals to even the tie, brought on attackers in an attempt to equalize. Those attempts backfired in stoppage time, when Wanderers defender Andre Bona countered Valour off a corner, running the length of the pitch to smash home a bonus marker on an open net.
Both sides will now focus their attention to CPL play. Valour will host Forge FC on Saturday (4:00 p.m. CT, 5:00 p.m. ET/OneSoccer) in the Winnipeg side’s final CONCACAF League qualifier. The Wanderers, meanwhile, will mark their return to league action on Wednesday at home to Cavalry FC (7:00 p.m. AT, 6:00 p.m. ET/OneSoccer).
58′ – Mohamed Kourouma (HFX Wanderers)
93′ – Andre Bona (HFX Wanderers)
81′ – Yellow Card – Raphael Ohin (Valour FC)
Three key performers
Marco Bustos (Valour FC)
Bustos’ ability to keep possession in the final third was impressive, slicing open the Wanderers several times. An important link between Valour’s anchoring midfielders and their forward group, the attacking midfielder made 50 passes in the opposing half in the losing effort.
Akeem Garcia (HFX Wanderers)
HFX Wanderers’ lone striker made the best of a lack of service in the final third with their 4-4-1-1 formation. Garcia, who stepped in at centre-forward in place of the suspended Thomaz Skublak, pressured Valour’s defence well and set up second-striker Lamy with a decent chance.
Andre Bona (HFX Wanderers)
Playing one of the top CPL attacking units away from home is no easy task, but Andre Bona was up for it. Recovering well, while also holding Valour speedster Ali Musse to account, Bona made several quality clearances on route HFX’s first clean sheet. Oh, and he scored his first goal for the club to cap it off.