MLS

MLS Cup play-offs: New York City FC reach championship game after beating Philadelphia Union

By Sports Desk December 05, 2021

New York City FC will play Portland Timbers in the MLS Cup after coming from behind to beat Philadelphia Union 2-1 in the Eastern Conference final on Sunday.

An Alexander Callens own goal was cancelled out by Maxi Moralez, and a late Talles Magno winner sent NYCFC to their first ever appearance in the championship game, which will take place in Portland on Saturday.

Ronny Deila's New York side were missing star player Valentin Castellanos through suspension and struggled to impose themselves on the game until they were forced to do so when falling behind.

A nervy contest burst into life just after the hour mark as Philadelphia took a 63rd-minute lead. Daniel Gazdag whipped a searching ball into the box and New York City defender Callens diverted it into his own net as he tried to stop striker Kacper Przybylko from getting on the end of it.

NYCFC replied swiftly as Moralez fired in an equaliser just two minutes later. Maxime Chanot hit a shot from range that was saved by Matt Freese, but the ball eventually fell to Moralez, who made no mistake.

Nathan Harriel should have put Philadelphia back in front with four minutes remaining but sent his free header just over the bar, and the Union were made to regret it as NYCFC won it in the 89th minute.

Gudmundur Thorarinsson stole the ball from Olivier Mbaizo before putting it on a plate for substitute Magno to score the winner.

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    The world number one has dominated during the opening week in Melbourne and quickly eased past Giorgi, the Italian 30th seed, 6-2 6-3 on Rod Laver Arena.

    Barty has dropped just eight games in the first three rounds at her home grand slam, where she is eyeing her third major title.

    The Australian is on track to face Naomi Osaka in a blockbuster fourth-round clash, although the Japanese star was involved in a tight contest with Amanda Anisimova.

    Giorgi made a nervous start and back-to-back double faults handed Barty a break of serve in the second game.

    Barty rolled into a 4-1 lead before digging herself out of a 15-40 hole to hold for 5-2.

    Speaking after her second-round win, Barty was wary of Giorgi's ability to hit players off the court, but 16 unforced errors were costly for the Italian in the first set.

    Giorgi tidied up the errors to begin the second set, but a double fault handed Barty two more break-point chances in the sixth game.

    The reigning Wimbledon champion took the second of those when Giorgi pulled a backhand well wide.

    That break proved to be enough for Barty, who closed out a fourth win in as many meetings with Giorgi.

    DATA SLAM: Barty keeps up top-seed record

    Top seeds have enjoyed good records at the Australian Open.

    In the Open Era, the top seed has only once failed to make the last 16 at the Australian Open and that came in 1979 (Virginia Ruzici). Barty ensured she did not join the Romanian.

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    Barty – 11/13
    Giorgi – 8/24

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
    Barty – 4/2
    Giorgi – 0/5

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    Barty – 3/5
    Giorgi – 0/4

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    Vlahovic has scored 17 times in 21 Serie A appearances, netting once every 109.5 minutes on average and comfortably outperforming his expected goals tally of 12.2, and his stock continues to rise.

    The 21-year-old ended 2021 on a high as well, matching Cristiano Ronaldo's 21st-century record for most goals in the Italian top flight in a calendar year (33), set in 2020.

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