MONTREAL — Ignacio Piatti scored twice as the Montreal Impact cruised past the visiting Chicago Fire 3-0 on Wednesday for their first three-game winning streak of the Major League Soccer season.
Matteo Mancosu added another from the penalty spot as Montreal (9-8-6) edged closer to a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. The seventh-place Impact are now two points away from the fifth-place Columbus Crew with two games in hand.
Chicago (12-7-5) never recovered from a disastrous first half when they conceded three goals, including two within a minute. The Fire have now lost four of their last five games.
Many of the 19,894 in attendance at Saputo Stadium came dressed in Germany and Bayern Munich jerseys, supporting Fire midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger. But the nearly sold-out crowd was treated to a show from the home side instead.
Piatti's first of the evening was a bit of a fluke. The Argentine blocked a rushed clearance from defender Christian Dean. The ball dropped perfectly in the box for Piatti, who cheekily flicked it over goalkeeper Matt Lampson in the sixth minute of play.
Dean had just come into the game less than a minute earlier as a substitute, replacing the injured Joao Meira. It was his first action as a Fire player after being traded from Vancouver two weeks ago.
Piatti's second was a thing of beauty. The 32-year-old found himself 25 yards away from goal surrounded by three Chicago players. Instead of waiting for a teammate, Piatti curled a shot into the bottom right corner of the net for his 12th of the season in the 38th minute. Lampson was not expecting the shot and could not react in time.
That goal came exactly one minute after Mancosu gave Montreal the 2-0 lead from the penalty spot. The Impact striker earned the spot kick after finding himself all alone on goal following a through ball from Piatti. Mancosu tried to go around Lampson but the Fire 'keeper tripped him in the box.
Piatti usually takes the spot kicks for Montreal, but the team's leading scorer gave it to Mancosu, who had not scored in his last nine games. The Italian fired a hard shot in the bottom left corner as Lampson dove in the opposite direction.
Montreal, which is coming off a 3-0 victory against the Philadelphia Union, recorded consecutive clean sheets for the first time since Oct. 2015.
Notes: The Impact have now scored in 20 consecutive home games, including MLS playoffs and Canadian Championship games.
Kelsey Patterson, The Canadian Press