LOS ANGELES: Sierra Leone international Kei Kamara scored twice as Columbus Crew defeated the Montreal Impact 3-1 in extra-time to end Didier Drog¬ba’s MLS Cup dream on Sunday (Mon¬day in Manila) and reach the Eastern Conference Championship finals.
Kamara, who fled bloody fighting in his homeland as a child before eventually settling as a refugee in the United States, clinched a 4-3 aggregate victory after heading home in the 111th minute.
The former Norwich and Middlesbrough striker had also scored a header in the fourth minute of a pulsating encounter at the Crew’s 20,000-capacity Mapfre Stadium in Colum-bus before missing a second-half penalty.
But the win shattered former Chelsea star Drogba’s hopes of helping Montreal become the first side from Canada to lift the MLS Cup.
The veteran former African Player of the Year had scored 12 goals in 13 MLS games heading into Sunday’s clash but was unable to conjure up another strike for Impact, as Crew advanced to a showdown with the New York Red Bulls for the Eastern Conference title.
The winner will face the Western Conference champions for the MLS Cup crown.
After falling behind to Kamara’s early strike, Montreal snatched a dubious equalizer five minutes before half-time when Dilly Duka prodded home from close range after Columbus failed to clear Marco Donadel’s corner.
The goal was harsh on Columbus however as replays showed Duka was standing offside when he pounced for a goal which put Montreal 3-2 ahead in the tie on aggregate.
Columbus were gifted a chance to get back in the contest on 67 minutes when Laurent Ciman fouled Ethan Finlay to concede a soft penalty.
Kamara stepped up but was denied by goalkeeper Evan Bush, who dived low to the right to parry away a poor spotkick.
It looked like the chance had passed Columbus by, but when Jack McInerney’s shot deflected back into the path of Finlay, the striker made no mistake and shot high into the roof of the net for 2-1, taking the match to extra-time.
With penalties looming Kamara redeemed his earlier spotkick miss, heading home substitute Cedrick Mabwati’s cross for the winner.
The Western Conference championship will see FC Dallas take on the Portland Timbers for a place in the MLS Cup finals.
Dallas won through to the Western Conference decider after beating the Seattle Sounders 4-2 on penalties after a 2-1 victory left the tie locked at 3-3 on aggregate.
Portland produced a clinical display to score a 2-0 win at the Vancouver Whitecaps, winning 2-0 on aggregate.