Toronto FC secured a berth in the MLS play-offs thanks to a 2-1 win over New York Red Bulls and a moment of brilliance from Sebastian Giovinco on Wednesday.
Giovinco had been in Rome 24 hours earlier as part of Italy’s squad for Euro 2016 qualifiers but the in-form forward put aside any doubts of jet lag by coming off the bench and leading Toronto into the post-season for the first time in their history with a goal for the ages in the 78th minute.
Second-half substitute Giovinco, who has been linked with Spanish and European champions Barcelona, danced past three defenders and cut onto his less-favoured left foot before firing the ball past Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles with 12 minutes remaining at BMO Field.
Giovinco’s 22nd goal of the season added to Herculez Gomez’s 51st-minute opener in Toronto.
Former Manchester City winger Shaun Wright-Phillips pulled a goal back via a powerful low volley four minutes from time but Toronto held on for a fourth consecutive win.
The victory sent Toronto up to second in the Eastern Conference on 49 points, five points adrift of the Red Bulls with two regular-season matches remaining.
FC Dallas, meanwhile, moved into a tie with the Red Bulls for the Supporters’ Shield after shutting out Western Conference rivals Vancouver Whitecaps 2-0.
Michael Barrios and Mauro Diaz were on target at Toyota Stadium.
Barrios broke the deadlock just past the half-hour mark, when he tucked the ball beyond Davis Ousted.
Diaz sealed the points seven minutes into the second half, having missed a 43rd-minute penalty for the hosts.
Dallas top the Western Conference ahead of LA Galaxy (51) and the Whitecaps (50) on the same amount of points as the Red Bulls as the two teams vie for the Supporters’ Shield – awarded to the team with the best regular-season record.
Meanwhile, Real Salt Lake’s play-offs hopes were dashed after a 1-0 defeat at home to Portland Timbers.