Sebastian Lletget and Jonathan dos Santos each netted second-half goals, sending the LA Galaxy to a 2-1 victory over Minnesota United in the first-round Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference matchup between the sides at Allianz Field on Sunday.
Jan Gregus scored a late goal in the second half to give Minnesota hope for a leveler, but none materialized, sending the Loons to a gutting defeat on their home field.
The result sends the Galaxy through to the West semifinals, where they'll meet Supporters' Shield-winning LAFC in a massive El Trafico derby at Banc of California Stadium on Thursday.
After a scoreless first half, Minnesota's best opportunity to open the scoring came in the 56th minute off a perfectly placed cross from Romain Metanire that found Angelo Rodriguez, who put his shot just wide of the far post.
The missed chance would come back to haunt the Loons, as Lletget found the opener for the Galaxy in the 71st minute, pouncing on a deflected shot by Zlatan Ibrahimovic and sneaking his shot past Minnesota goalkeeper Vito Mannone to give the Galaxy the 1-0 lead. Dos Santos then provided the dagger just four minutes later, beating Mannone with a gorgeous curling effort from outside the area to push the lead to the 2-0.
Minnesota would get a late lifeline from an 87th-minute tally from Gregus that was set up by substitute Darwin Quintero, but the Galaxy would manage to see out the 2-1 final and punch their ticket to a Western Conference semifinal matchup against rival LAFC.
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- 71' - LA - Sebastian Lletget | WATCH
- 75' - LA - Jonathan dos Santos | WATCH
- 87' - MIN - Jan Gregus | WATCH
$6,000 was contributed to the Audi Goals Drive Progress fund.
- THE BIG PICTURE: It's a bitter pill to swallow for the Loons, who had the homefield advantage and felt in control of the game for the most part until Lletget's opener. Minnesota can hang their hat on a vastly improved regular season campaign after missing the playoffs in each of their first two years in MLS, but this was a big missed opportunity to deliver a historic first playoff win in front of their home fans. As for the Galaxy, the result means the matchup that most neutrals want to see is now official. They'll have to get by a juggernaut LAFC squad to advance, but if there's anyone who has shown this season that they might be up to that lofty task, it's Zlatan and Co. Start the hype train now.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: With both teams struggling to generate chances through the first 70 minutes, Lletget's opener changed the entire complexion of the game for the Galaxy and set the stage for dos Santos' golazo that came shortly afterward.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: We'll give it to dos Santos, who is one of the most important players in the league to his team's success, and provided what wound up being the decisive blow with his highlight-reel 75th-minute tally.
- LA: Thursday, Oct. 24 vs. LAFC (10:30 pm ET | ESPN in US; TSN in Canada)
- MIN: End of season