Alejandro Pozuelo's panenka sends Toronto FC through, New York City FC home

Alejandro Pozuelo is feeling it. The rest of us are feeling a little déjà vu.

After taking advantage of a defensive error to score the opener in Toronto FC's 2-1 victory over New York City FC in Wednesday's Eastern Conference Semifinal, the Spaniard decided it with a devilish panenka from the penalty spot that will look familiar to fans of both clubs.

“I knew before I shoot the penalty that I need to try to shoot in the middle because in this minute — 87th minute — I think he [goalkeeper Sean Johnson] cannot stay in the middle,” Pozuelo said after the match, explaining his rationale for executing the daring play.

Not long after Pozuelo arrived in MLS from Belgium's Genk, he opened his MLS account with a very similar goal against the same NYCFC squad and goalkeeper Sean Johnson in a 4-0 win at BMO Field in late March. 

It was the first of five goals from the spot in 2019, and first of 12 goals overall in his maiden MLS campaign. His only miss? When Johnson denied him on a more conventionally taken PK in the teams' return regular season meeting, a 1-1 draw at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 11. (Pozuelo had already scored on an earlier penalty in the match.)

Pozuelo now has two goals and an assist so far in the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs, helping Toronto reach the Eastern Conference Final despite missing Jozy Altidore and Omar Gonzalez for both games.

“[NYCFC goalkeeper] Sean Johnson has seen a lot of him,” Toronto manager Greg Vanney noted postgame. “it’s late in the game. It’s tough for him to just stand in the goal. It’s a gutsy play by Poz, but he was great on the night.”

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