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Martinez scores 23rd, 24th goals, Atlanta tops Impact 2-1

July 29, 2018
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Atlanta United's Josef Martinez, left, celebrates with teammates after scoring against the Montreal Impact during first-half MLS soccer game action in Montreal, Saturday, July 28, 2018. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press via AP)

MONTREAL (AP) — Josef Martinez scored his 23rd and 24th goals of the season to help MLS-leading Atlanta United beat the Montreal Impact 2-1 in a rain-delayed game Saturday night.

With 11 games left in the regular season, Martinez is only three short of the MLS season record of 27 goals shared by three players.

Atlanta (14-4-5) has a four-game unbeaten string.

Ignacio Piatti scored for Montreal (9-13-1). Goalkeeping coach Joel Bats acted as Montreal coach as Remi Garde served a one-game suspension. Garde was shown the red card during a 2-2 draw in Portland last week.

Montreal had most of the ball in the opening half, but Atlanta had the better chances off counterattacks, with Martinez heading wide on the rebound of a Julian Gressel shot in the 17th minute and Evan Bush stopping a Miguel Almiron blast in the 28th.

Atlanta opened the scoring in the 31st minute. Hector Villalba won a race for a ball down the right flank and crossed a ball in front that defender Rudy Camacho just missed before a leaping Martinez headed it under the crossbar.

The 75-minute rain delay, which started during the intermission, was announced as a thunder shower passed over Saputo Stadium, soaking the field as fans sought shelter under the grandstands.

When play resumed, players were sliding around on the slick grass and Atlanta took advantage on another counter when Jukka Raitala stopped a shot on the goal line, only to see Martinez steal the ball and tap it over the line in the 57th minute.

Piatti scored in the 87th minute.

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