NYCFC's Victory Wasn't Not Enough To Advance • Latino Sports

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NYCFC’s Victory Wasn’t Not Enough To Advance

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Bronx, NY – Heartbreak in the BX but a whole lot of pride.

Following a long two month wait for a gameday at Yankee Stadium, 23,246 fans made the pilgrimage for this do or die second leg Conference semifinal.

With a three-goal deficit to make up after the heavy 4-1 defeat in Ohio, City knew the size of the task ahead of them before a ball was kicked, with Head Coach Patrick Vieira describing it as a “big, exciting challenge”.

The Frenchman’s charges exploded out of the blocks and began exerting pressure on the Columbus backline from the first kick, earning a first reward in the 15th minute when Rodney Wallace was taken down inside the area.

As he did on Decision Day vs. the same opponents, Villa assumed responsibilities for the spot-kick but this time he made no mistake, sending Zack Steffen the wrong way from 12 yards to get the Bronx jumping.

The deficit reduced to two, NYC continued to take control of proceedings against a Columbus side content to sit back and soak up pressure and wait for opportunities on the counter.

That was until the half hour mark when The Crew had their best spell of the half – a period which would have resulted in a road goal if not for an unbelievable save from Sean Johnson.

Back at the other end, Villa served up a great chance for Maxi Moralez to cut the Columbus lead to one but the Argentine struck the outside of the post with his shot.

1-0 on the night was how it stayed until the break, meaning Vieira’s men needed at least two goals in the second half to progress and face Toronto FC in the Conference final.

On 53′, NYCFC moved to within one as Struna’s long-range strike was headed past his own goalkeeper by Jonathan Mensah, meaning the Boys in Blue would need just one more goal to advance (if they could keep Columbus out at the other end).

Even the most cynical home fan was now dreaming of the epic denouement and Moralez was a whisker away from providing the turnaround goal with his second header of the season but it just flashed past the post.

A minute later, Jack Harrison strode clear down the right flank and opted to take the shot on himself rather than square it, drawing a solid save from Steffen.

City went even closer on 70′ when Wallace almost scored the goal his excellent display had warranted, taking down a aerial ball and flicking it over his marker’s head delightfully before stabbing his volley towards goal.

It beat Steffen, but not the woodwork…

Sean Okoli was introduced with 10 minutes remaining as Vieira upped the ante but the visitors employed their best gamesmanship to try and disrupt NYC’s flow.

All of the stoppages meant that five minutes were added on and Vieira introduced Andrea Pirlo and Jonathan Lewis to try and find the game-winner.

There was a scramble in the box in the dying seconds and a shout for a penalty but the referee was unmoved and Columbus held on by the skin of their teeth to progress.

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