MLS round-up: Sebastian Giovinco helps Toronto FC beat New York Red Bulls in play-off opener

Supporters’ Shield winners Toronto FC defeated the New York Red Bulls 2-1 in the opening game of their Eastern Conference semi-final.

Victor Vazquez put the Canada club ahead in the eighth minute and a foul by Felipe Martins deep in the second half gave Italy international Sebastian Giovinco a platform to lift Toronto above the Bulls. His free-kick beat the wall and found the left corner of the Red Bulls’ goal for the winner.

Between Toronto’s goals, New York equalised with a first-half stoppage-time penalty awarded for a foul on former Manchester City striker Bradley Wright-Phillips by Toronto’s Drew Moor. Daniel Royer converted from the spot.

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Despite subsequent attempts at goal from Wright-Phillips and Gonzalo Veron, the hosts failed to net again.

The result leaves Toronto, who set the record for the most points in a Major League Soccer season, in a commanding position ahead of the second leg at home on Sunday.

In Texas, the Houston Dynamo drew 0-0 with the Portland Timbers in their Western Conference semi-final opener. They meet for the second leg in Portland on Sunday.