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Fire holds off Impact, gets to .500

Updated: September 12, 2013 6:55AM

The Fire was hungry and angry. Montreal paid the price for the team’s semifinal loss in the U.S. Open Cup.

The Fire scored two unassisted goals in the first 23 minutes and used some great individual defensive plays to stymie the Impact’s rally in a 2-1 victory Saturday night before 17,297 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview.

Midfielder Joel Lindpere blasted a left-footed shot that deflected off an Impact player and curled inside the near post in the sixth minute. Midfielder Dilly Duka, who left the game late in the second half after suffering an ankle injury, dazzled the crowd with a succession of moves that he finished off with a goal from nine yards out in the 23rd minute.

Coach Frank Klopas said the Fire (9-9-4) had to take advantage of one-on-one matchups.

“You have to have the ability in those one-on-one duels to create the [offensive] advantage,” he said. “Any team, it’s proven statistically, that scores first and early is going to be tough to beat.”

More impressive, the Fire overcame the absence of star forward Mike Magee, who’s day-to-day with a calf injury.

Playing in his first league game, Ecuadorean forward Juan Luis Anangonó showcased his speed and offensive skills.

Goalkeeper Sean Johnson made three superb saves. His huge stop late in the first half nullified an Impact breakaway.

Impact midfielder Sanna Nyassi, a human blur, drove down the left side and left a perfect ball for forward Daniele Paponi, whose one-touch pass to midfielder Justin Mapp gave him a direct line on goal.

Johnson read the play perfectly and made a spectacular sliding stop.

“We did a great job defensively of staying wide, and I was able to take away angles,” Johnson said. “It was a crucial save at that point, 2-0. And after they scored in the second half, the momentum, you definitely felt it shift. We had to be able to ride it out.’’

Impact midfielder Felipe Martins answered with a left-footed blast in the 57th minute that cut the Fire’s advantage. Forward Chris Rolfe came to Johnson’s rescue by deflecting a header in the third minute of extra time that preserved the victory.

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