A first-half brace by Ezequiel Barco helped Atlanta United end their 12-match winless streak, defeating the Columbus Crew 3-2 at Lower.com Field on Saturday evening.
HIGHLIGHTS: Columbus Crew vs. Atlanta United FC | August 07, 2021
Marcelino Moreno added a goal from the penalty spot as Atlanta handed the Crew their third straight loss while winning their first league match away from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in over 10 months. The defending MLS Cup champions have allowed 11 goals during their losing skid, while this match featured a whopping three penalty kicks and two goals overturned via Video Review.
The visitors drew first blood in the 5th minute through a pretty buildup, which ended with Barco accepting a backheel pass from George Bello and knocking it past Eloy Room to put Atlanta ahead early.
Then in the 34th minute, Moreno was tripped up by Marlon Hairston in the scoring area, leading referee Allen Chapman to promptly point to the spot. Barco took the penalty kick to give himself a first-half brace and the Five Stripes a 2-0 lead.
But Columbus answered back not long after when Jonathan Mensah got just enough of Lucas Zelarayan's corner kick to head it past Brad Guzan to make it a 2-1 contest in the 37th minute. The Ghanaian center back had given Columbus a 1-0 win at Atlanta back on July 24 with another corner-kick header.
In the 48th minute, Luis Diaz appeared to have leveled the match as he broke in on goal to seemingly make it 2-2, yet was ultimately ruled offside. Video Review confirmed the call on the field and Atlanta maintained their advantage.
With around 25 minutes to go, Moreno drew his second penalty of the evening and this time the Argentine midfielder took it himself. He caught Room guessing the wrong way to give Atlanta a 3-1 lead.
The Crew looked as if they had cut it to 3-2 when Derrick Etienne Jr.'s strike inside the box from Mensah's flicked header made it past Guzan. But Video Review resulted in a second disallowed Columbus goal, with Etienne ruled to have been in an offside position.
But in the first minute of stoppage time, Pedro Santos made good on his own kick from the spot to make it a 3-2 match. However, the Crew couldn't come up with the equalizer and Atlanta held for a long-awaited victory.
- THE BIG PICTURE: Atlanta United's winless streak is over, punctuated by another promising attacking performance and staving off the Crew's late charge. They’ll hope that they can use this as a springboard to a second-half turnaround with six of their next seven matches at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the arrival of new DP forward Luiz Araujo looming. Columbus have lost three matches in a row and conceded 11 goals during that span. That’s in comparison to 12 goals allowed across their first 15 matches of 2021.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: The Crew looked to be on level terms with Atlanta just after the halftime break through Luis Diaz. But the midfielder was ruled offside in the first of Columbus’ two overturned goals on the night.
OFFSIDE: Luis Díaz, Columbus Crew - 48th minute
- MAN OF THE MATCH: In his second game back with Atlanta since returning from the Olympics, Ezequiel Barco enjoyed a night to remember, notching a pair of first-half goals and nearly ending the night with his first career hat trick if not for some strong work in net by Eloy Room.
GOAL: Ezequiel Barco, Atlanta United FC - 5th minute
- CLB: Sunday, August 15 at Chicago Fire FC | 6:00 pm ET (MLS LIVE on ESPN+)
- ATL: Sunday, August 15 vs. LAFC | 4:00 pm ET (ESPN, ESPN Deportes)