Jonathan Mensah's back-post header off a Lucas Zelarayan corner kick in the 65th minute helped lift the Columbus Crew to a 1-0 win over Atlanta United, spoiling the party for the 67,000-plus crowd at Mercedez Benz Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Zelarayan was brought on as part of a double substitution to start the second half with the intention of making the difference. The Argentine playmaker did just that by setting up the lone goal straight off the Crew’s training ground.

Marlon Hairston flicked on the near-post corner by Zelarayan and Mensah crashed in at the back post, heading in off Anton Walkes for his first goal since the 2018 campaign.

The first chance of an entertaining, but scoreless first half came inside the opening two minutes when Josef Martinez, with a pair of defenders quickly converging, slipped to an open Jake Mulraney on the right. However, the Irish attacker’s shot went just wide of the far post.

The clearest opportunity came in the 16th minute when Bradley Wright-Phillips picked out Erik Hurtado behind the Atlanta defense following a Five Stripes' corner kick. The speedy Crew forward took a touch into the box, but fired off the outside netting.

Erik Lopez, a first-half substitute for Mulraney, then put a shot on frame from 20 yards out. Columbus goalkeeper Eloy Room did well to parry it away three minutes from halftime.

Martinez again played provider for Atlanta just before the hour mark, picking out Marcelino Moreno, who took a settling touch before picking out the far post. However, Room dived to his left to get a crucial touch.

Atlanta center back Alan Franco lost his mark in the box in the 78th minute, but directed his potentially-equalizing header wide of the target. It was the best chance of a late-match barrage by the hosts that ultimately came up empty.

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Goals

  • 65’ – CLB – Jonathan Mensah | WATCH

Three Things

  • THE BIG PICTURE: For just the second time this season, the Crew secured all three points away from home, a result that helped the defending MLS Cup champions ride up the Eastern Conference ladder to third in the table. Atlanta hoped the new-coach bump and Martinez’s return to the starting lineup would provide the spark, but the Five Stripes looked disjointed in the attacking third in defeat.
  • MOMENT OF THE MATCH: This save by Room was world-class and it helped secure all three points for the visitors.
  • MAN OF THE MATCH: Mensah was an absolute beast defensively, winning 66.7 percent of his duels, completing 89.6 percent of his passes and scoring the game’s lone goal. Yeah, Man of the Match is well earned.

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