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Pedro Morales inspires Vancouver Whitecaps to historic victory

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Pedro Morales produced two goals and two assists as the Vancouver Whitecaps survived a late comeback to beat rivals Portland Timbers for the very first time.

Maximiliano Urruti had put the Timbers in front in the third minute, but Chile international Morales scored twice from the spot before assisting Erik Hurtado and Jordan Harvey as the Canadians blew their hosts away.

Portland rallied with late goals from Gaston Fernandez and Will Johnson, but they couldn't find an equaliser as a 22-game unbeaten home run came to an end.

The North West Pacific divison has provided Major League Soccer with some of its most exciting play this season. The Seattle Sounders FC sit top of the division, while this pair both came into the weekend on impressive runs.

A theme of speedy, attacking football continued here, and while Vancouver had raced out of the traps against the Sounders last week, they were caught out by a lively Timbers side early on.

With just three minutes gone, Darlington Nagbe's lovely dribble brought the ball out of defence and he found Diego Valeri. The Argentine slipped in Urruti, who bent a thundering effort beyond David Ousted from 20 yards.

Not satisfied with the one-goal lead, Portland went looking for another, and almost found it through Johnson. Nagbe squared the ball to the 27-year-old, whose deflected strike brought a splendid save out of the Whitecaps' goalkeeper.

Vancouver hadn't had a sniff up to this point, but in the 15th minute they were handed a route back into the game as Hurtado's energetic run was halted illegally in the area by Diego Chara. Morales bundled his spot-kick down the middle, and from nowhere the visitors were level.

Urruti then almost restored his side's lead with a superb header from a right-wing corner which clipped the crossbar before bouncing back out.

In the 25th minute, another clumsy challenge in the Portland box had referee Kevin Stott pointing to the spot once more. First, Kekuta Manneh went down, then from the loose ball a second coming-together saw Sebastian Fernandez join his teammate on the deck, leaving the official little option.

Morales made a cleaner connection this time, sending Donovan Ricketts the wrong way as he ruthlessly dispatched the penalty.

The Timbers were starting to crumble and were thankful to their stopper for denying Fernandez, before Morales missed a golden opportunity for his hat-trick as the ball fell his way following Hurtado's challenge on the lax Pa Modou Kah.

The same pair again linked up as the young striker's volleyed flick just cleared the cross-bar from his teammate's corner.

Morales was again the provider when the American finally got his goal in first-half stoppage time. The 29-year-old crossed from the right and Hurtado beat Ricketts at the second attempt to give the scoreline a one-sided appearance at the break.

Within minutes of the restart, the Whitecaps had extended their advantage further, with another assist for Morales.

He picked out Harvey with a glorious cross-field pass, and the full-back brought the ball down before hammering a pile-driver into the far corner.

There was no let-up in the Vancouver attack, and Ricketts had to twice more deny Morales who seemed certain to net a third.

Portland looked to regain a foothold in the match with the introduction of in-form loan forward Fanendo Adi, and in the 77th minute the Nigerian forced a brilliant low save from Ousted.

Just seconds later though, the Timbers did have a goal back. Valeri's deep, swinging cross found the head of Fernandez, who planted his header firmly beyond the goalkeeper.

The hosts began to pile on the pressure, and it paid off with four minutes remaining through a magical Johnson goal. The build-up play was all down to Adi, whose breathtaking skill held the ball up before flicking his captain in on goal, where the former Heerenveen man thumped a volley into the net to give his team hope.

Though shots continued to rain down, Ousted wasn't tested and the Canadians tasted victory at Providence Park for the first time to move sixth in the race for the Supporters' Shield.

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Topics:
MLS
Football
Vancouver Whitecaps
Portland Timbers

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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