July 25, 2019 10:26 am

Ottawa Fury beat HFX Wanderers, advance to semifinals of Canadian Championship

Ottawa Fury FC's Chriastiano Francois, right, vies for control of the ball with HFX Wanderers FC's Ndzemdzela Langwa in first half Canadian Championship soccer action in Halifax on Wednesday, July 10, 2019.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
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OTTAWA ⁠— The Ottawa Fury shook off an atrocious first half on Wednesday to reach the Canadian Championship semifinal.

Ottawa managed a 2-2 draw against HFX Wanderers FC in the second leg of the Canadian Championship quarterfinal to advance 5-4 on aggregate.

WATCH (May 3, 2019): HFX Wanderers Home opener tee up

The Fury, of the United Soccer League, were saved by goals from Christiano Francois and Onua Obasi after falling behind 2-0 by the 43rd minute against HFX of the Canadian Premiere League.

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“Halifax were the underdog coming into this with something to prove and you could see over the two legs they made it difficult for us, but if you look at the full two legs, the fact that it was a 5-4 aggregate, I think it flattered them a little bit,” Fury forward Carl Haworth said.

“The chances we had in the second half, we could have that better team and run away with it. We’ve advanced now and we have to prepare for the next match.”

READ MORE: Ottawa Fury FC sign two trialists, take Montreal Impact defender on loan

Ottawa will face Toronto FC in the semifinal. Ottawa will host the opening leg on Aug. 7 while TFC will host the second leg Aug. 14.

The Wanderers came in needing to win by two, or score at least three goals to advance, and got off to a strong start.

They took a 2-0 lead in the first half and went into the second half up 2-1, but in the 66th minute Francois got just enough toe on the ball to get it past HFX ‘keeper Jan-Michael Williams to tie the game.

“In the first half we were unrecognizable. I think without a doubt it was our worst first half this year and there was no reason. We didn’t play our game,” said Fury coach Nikola Popovic.

“In the second half we corrected (our mistakes) and we were the only team on the field. We have to give congratulations to Halifax. They showed that they are a good team but I think we were the better team.”

READ MORE: HFX Wanderers defeat Forge FC 2-1 to earn first ever CPL victory

After a quick opportunity by the Fury was turned away in the second minute of the opening half, not much happened on either side of the ball until the Fury got sloppy, and the Wanderers were unlucky.

In the 28th minute the Wanderers didn’t even get a shot in close following a 2-on-1 break. Luis Perea fumbled with the ball before being overcome by Fury defenders.

Seconds later Tomasz Skublak was stopped in tight by Fury ‘keeper Callum Irving, and then Mohamed Kourouma was foiled on the rebound ⁠— all after a horrific giveaway by Clement Attakora.

Finally in the 31st minute the Wanderers broke through as Skublak took a ball off his chest while fighting off a defender, chipped the ball back to himself and fired a low strike past Irving to the far side.

WATCH (April 5, 2019): HFX Wanderers FC reveal home and away kits for inaugural season

In the 43rd minute they doubled their advantage to 2-0 as Perea found a loose ball in the box off a corner and put it in before Irving could get to it.

The Fury saved a bit off face in the first half as Obasi was able to get his head on a free kick from Haworth and slip it past Williams.

“We lost a bit of concentration. We are always aware of players coming in front of us and we paid the price. It was a difficult time to get scored on,” Wanderers coach Stephen Hart said.

“You try to be as positive as you can when you go into the dressing room but I think it rattled us to be honest.”

READ MORE: Ottawa Fury gets OK to remain in the USL in 2019

Notes: The winner between Ottawa and TFC will advance to the Canadian Championship final in September, with a chance to represent Canada at the CONCACAF Champions League.

The Canadian Championship was introduced in 2008 and Wednesday’s game saw the event top the 1-million mark in attendance.

WATCH (July 18, 2018): ‘Look what they did to our field’: Fire interrupts soccer match between TFC and Ottawa Fury

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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