//Martinez brace carries Atlanta over Montreal 2-1

Martinez brace carries Atlanta over Montreal 2-1

MONTREAL, Quebec  — Josef Martinez scored twice to lead Atlanta United past Montreal Impact 2-1 in front of 19,064 fans at Stade Saputo on Saturday night. Martinez, who added to his league-leading goal tally of 24, has now scored in six consecutive matches and is just three goals shy of tying the league’s single-season record.

Atlanta scored the first goal of the match for the 16th time this season when Martinez broke through in the 31st minute. After taking a ball near midfield, Miguel Almirón found a pocket of space and played a through ball into the far corner flag that seemed to catch the Montreal defense off-guard. However, a streaking Tito Villalba got on the end of the pass and immediately sent a left-footed cross into the box for Martinez and the forward headed in a goal for the eighth time this season.

During halftime, severe weather forced a delay that ultimately lasted slightly more than an hour. The match finally resumed at 9:20 p.m. and it took just a dozen minutes for Martinez to strike again to double Atlanta’s lead. Franco Escobar re-gained possession of a loose ball near the edge of the 18 and immediately played Julian Gressel in toward goal. Gressel’s ensuing attempt was blocked by Evan Bush, but Escobar was the first to the rebound and hammered a shot toward goal that was temporarily stopped by Jukka Raitala. However, Martinez stepped in front of Raitala’s attempted clearance and wound up scoring on the re-direction.

Ignacio Piatti put Montreal on the board in the 87th minute, but Atlanta was able to kill the game off to preserve the three points.

The league will converge in Atlanta this week for MLS All-Star festivities beginning on Monday, July 30 and culminate at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which will host the MLS All-Star Game on Wednesday, Aug. 1. Atlanta United (14-4-5, 47 points) will return to action when it hosts Toronto FC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 4