OTTAWA – Ottawa Fury FC had to rally from a two-goal deficit, but goals by Onua Obasi and Christiano Francois on a pair of assists by Carl Haworth saw the side earn a 2-2 draw with HFX Wanderers FC on Wednesday night at TD Place, and a 5-4 aggregate victory to advance to the Semifinals of the 2019 Canadian Championship.
Fury FC will face defending Voyageurs Cup holder Toronto FC of Major League Soccer over two legs next month, with the first leg set for TD Place on Wednesday, August 7.
Holding a one-goal advantage going into the second leg after a 3-2 win in Halifax two weeks ago, Ottawa held the upper hand going into its home leg, but the visitors grew into the game in the first half on Wednesday and leveled the score on aggregate in the 30th minute when Tomasz Skublak found the bottom-left corner from the right side of the penalty area.
The Wanderers then took the lead for the first time on aggregate in the tie when Perea scored two minutes before halftime, but Fury FC responded in first-half stoppage time when Obasi got on the end of a free kick by Haworth and flicked home a finish to level the score on aggregate with 45 minutes to go.
Lifted by Obasi’s goal, Fury FC put in a far better display in the second half and was rewarded for its pressure when Francois got onto the end of a lifted through-ball by Haworth from the right into the penalty area and put Ottawa back ahead on aggregate. While the Wanderers went in search of a goal that would send the game to a penalty shootout, Fury FC limited their guests to only one shot in the second half to see the game out.
“In the first half, we were unrecognizable,” said Ottawa Head Coach Nikola Popovic. “I think it could be the worst first half we played this year. And we didn’t play our game. In the second half, we corrected this. We were able to put the ball on the ground, play possession football, and I think from there we were the only team on the field. We had chances and we were the better team.”
Ottawa will now face Toronto FC for the third time in as many year’s in the Battle of the North, and will have hopes of replicating the 2-1 victory it took at TD Place two seasons ago as it looks to earn an upset over two legs against Canada’s biggest club.
“Like a famous coach in Portugal said: Allow me to dream,” said Popovic. “I think that what we have this year, with this team, it’s a group of very good quality, and I think this group of players allow us to dream. We will play a very good team, with a lot of talented players, but with the group we have this year, it is very possible that we could reach the final.”