Football: Drogba strikes again as Montreal advance in MLS Cup play-offs

MONTREAL (AFP) - Former Chelsea star Didier Drogba kept up his incredible scoring record as Montreal Impact cruised past Toronto 3-0 to advance in the MLS Cup play-offs on Thursday.

The Ivory Coast international bagged his 12th goal in 12 games since signing for Montreal in July, after finally calling time on his career with Chelsea in the English Premier League.

The 37-year-old scored the home side's third with a straightforward tap-in at the far post on 39 minutes to effectively seal victory in the all-Canada clash.

It capped a superb week for Drogba, who on Wednesday was named the MLS Player of the Month for a second straight time in recognition of his goal-scoring form for the Impact, whose fortunes have been transformed since his arrival.

Montreal had been battling for a play-off berth when Drogba arrived but made it into the post-season thanks to the Ivorian's goals.

He scored twice against Toronto on Sunday, ensuring Montreal finished third seeds in the Eastern Conference.

On Thursday Montreal wasted no time in asserting their superiority over Toronto once more, taking the lead on 18 minutes after a superbly worked counterattack.

Ignacio Piatti burst clear from deep before releasing Patrice Bernier, who timed his run to perfection to go through on goal.

The veteran Canadian international picked his spot before calmly finishing beneath advancing Toronto goalkeeper Chris Konopka.

Piatti doubled the Montreal lead on 33 minutes, gathering the ball on the edge of the area, holding off his marker and firing a low shot into the bottom right-hand corner of the goal.

Victory was all but assured six minutes before half-time when Drogba scored, sweeping home at the back post after Bernier crossed from the right flank.

Montreal advanced to an Eastern Conference semi-final clash with Columbus.

In Western Conference action, the Portland Timbers sneaked through 7-6 on penalties after playing to a 2-2 draw after extra time with Sporting Kansas City.

Goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey was the hero for Portland with three saves in the shoot-out as well as the decisive conversion from the spot against Kansas substitute goalkeeper Jon Kempin.

The latter had come on in the 84th minute when Tim Melia reluctantly exited 14 minutes after taking a blow to the head.

After Portland's Rodney Wallace opened the scoring in the 57th minute, Kevin Ellis equalized in the 87th to force extra time.

Krisztian Nemeth put Sporting up 2-1 early in extra time before Maximiliano Urruti scored in the 118th minute to force the shoot-out.

Portland will face Vancouver in the Western Conference semi-finals.