Real Salt Lake got goals from its Argentine tandem en route to a 2-1 victory over the Portland Timbers Saturday.
Both of Salt Lake’s goals came in the first half, while Portland’s lone strike came in the second half on a mistake in the back line.
The Timbers made a furious rally in the late minutes to try and get a second, but the visitors from the Pacific Northwest were unable to score.
Real Salt Lake got its first decent chance in the 7th minute when Javier Morales lobbed a ball to Paulo Jr who headed it back to open space in the box. Morales ran forward in an attempt to get a shot on frame, but Jack Jewsbury was able to clear the ball to safety.
Salt Lake got on the board early with a trick play from Morales and Fabian Espindola in the 14th minute. On a free kick just outside the box, Morales faked a kick and just flicked the ball to Espindola, who fired around the wall and into the bottom right corner of the net.
Nick Rimando kept Portland scoreless in the 21st minute when a header from Portland’s Rodney Wallace came at him point blank. Rimando made a reaction-save to keep the ball out of the net.
Morales made it 2-0 in the 36th minute with a devastating free kick from just outside the box that got past a diving Joseph Bendik.
The half ended 2-0, with Salt Lake sitting firmly in control.
In the second half, Portland subbed in Bright Dike, who created a few chances and eventually scored. In the 52nd minute, he got behind the defensive line and into the box, though Nat Borchers was able to recover and deflect Dike’s shot straight to Rimando.
Espindola nearly got his second in the 57th minute when he collected a pass at the top of the box with his back to goal. With a quick step around his defender, the 27-year-old fired hard at the left side of goal, but his shot was saved by Bendik.
Paulo Jr. had his chance as well in the 60th minute when he drove into the right side of the box and fired hard at the far post. His low shot missed just wide.
Portland responded immediately, scoring in the 61st minute when Dike got behind the back line and Sal Zizzo lobbed a pass to him. Dike’s header from inside the six beat a helpless Rimando to bring the match within a goal.
Espindola was robbed again by Bendik in the 64th minute when a slip pass from Paulo found him open in the box. Espindola’s shot was deflected high and out for a corner.
Rimando made another big save in the 82nd minute when a free kick from just outside the box was hit on frame just above his head. The UCLA product made a leaping save to preserve the lead.
The late attack from Portland did not subside, but Salt Lake was able to weather the storm and earn all three points.
Category: Game Review