New York City FC got the three points they desperately needed Saturday night with a 2-1 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps Saturday night at BC Place.
For 88 minutes, the expansion team looked like it would earn an impressive 1-0 win away from home.
But then a wild finish ensued, as referee Ricardo Salazar issued a pair of questionable penalty kicks to both teams.
“Mania, pure mania,” NYCFC coach Jason Kreis said when asked about the waning minutes. “I honestly feel that both penalty kick decisions were very poor. The game should have ended 1-0 in my opinion.”
With their third consecutive win, NYCFC pulled within five points of sixth-place Montreal, but the red-hot Impact still have two games in hand.
“I think in our minds we have to win out. That’s clear in our minds that’s the only way we have a chance and even then we might not,” Kreis said. “I’m really, really pleased with the performance again tonight, so happy with the effort that’s being put forth and the togetherness that we’re showing now in a consistent basis.”
“We’re still alive in the playoffs, even though it’s a small, slight chance,” midfielder Mix Diskerud said. “It feels good definitely when we have the six-hour flight home.”
Frank Lampard scored his second goal in three games to put NYCFC in front in the 29th minute with a first-time shot from 10 yards out. It finished a sequence that saw Andrea Pirlo play a sublime ball to a streaking Angelino, who cut the ball back into the box from the end line.
“I have to say a big thanks to the players who made it,” Lampard said. “I think Andrea’s ball was top class and Angelino played a fantastic cross and I arrived at the right time. I think it was a very good team goal.”
NYCFC were two minutes from recording a clean sheet for the second time in three matches when Salazar ruled Angelino fouled Kendall Waston inside the box. Pedro Morales converted the penalty to equalize.
Salazar then awarded NYCFC a penalty in the fifth minute of stoppage time as Matias Laba was whistled for a tackle on Lampard. David Villa netted his 17th goal of the season to secure all three points in dramatic, and controversial fashion.
“It was two non-penalties,” Lampard said. “I have to be fair to the ref now because I was ready to be negative about him after he gave their one. It’s not an easy job. I think he maybe made a mistake with their one, well he did make a mistake and mine wasn’t a penalty either.”
While the wild final sequence was all the talk after the match, the focus for NYCFC turns immediately to the next must-win game.
“We need to win next weekend. That will be our complete and sole focus is just D.C. United Friday night,” Kreis said. “We need three points.”