Portland Timbers late leveller halts nine-man Dallas

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Portland Timbers’ Pa Modou Kah scored in the 94th minute to deny nine-man FC Dallas their first win at Providence Park on Wednesday night.

The Hoops had showcased some ruthless counter-attacking, scoring with Fabian Castillo and Blas Perez, and relying on some heroic defensive work from Zach Loyd among others, until a late Timbers rally.

Will Johnson scored a penalty and the visitors had both Moises Hernandez and Perez sent off, before Kah’s leveller.

There have now been seven draws in the Rose City this season, while Dallas last won away at the start of April.

The hosts made a lightning start with a couple of ultimately fruitless attacks after some nice linkup play, but the Burn should have taken the lead in the third minute.

Castillo shimmied into space in the area and forced Donovan Ricketts into a low save, before Adam Moffat hammered the rebound against the post and Jorge Villafana made an inch-perfect tackle to deny Tesho Akindele.

Portland then had the ball in the net, as Rauwshan McKenzie slammed in from two-yards after Will Johnson had headed against the upright, but play was brought back for a correct offside call on the Timbers’ captain.

Ricketts was tested again in the 19th minute, when Je-Vaughn Watson gained a yard on marker McKenzie from Castillo’s corner and thumped a volley on target, but the 37-year-old stopper blocked well.

The game remained open with both sides enjoying spells of possession in offensive areas, and Raul Fernandez twice had to make crucial interceptions at the by-line to deny home forwards.

The Texans took the lead in the 27th minute though, through form man Castillo.

Perez played a glorious chipped pass in-field to the Colombian, and he took the ball down on his chest, burst past static Portland defenders and tucked a finish inside of the far post.

It was nearly 2-0 moments later, as Perez received the ball from Akindele and lashed into the side-netting with his second touch.

Dallas’ speed on the break was continuing to blow away the Timbers defence, and it was Akindele’s burst that created a second goal. He flew past Diego Chara and then Kah, laying the ball back to Perez – via a Castillo dummy – and the 33-year-old rifled past Ricketts into the corner.

Steve Zakuani immediately displayed his own impressive turn of pace to set up Fanendo Adi, whose powerful drive deflected narrowly off target.

The Hoops offered their hosts no respite though, with Ricketts worked by a long-range Castillo effort in the first half’s closing seconds.

The match continued to be an end-to-end encounter after the interval, with the Portland custodian again saving from the 21-year-old just moments after Fernandez had made a smart stop from Diego Valeri’s deflected free-kick.

The Burn then somehow survived an incredible 53rd minute goalmouth scramble. Adi flashed the ball across the face of goal, and in the ensuing madness Loyd and Stephen Keel blocked Valeri and Johnson’s respective attempts on the goal-line.

Canada international Johnson had another opportunity when Fernandez failed to gather Michael Harrington’s right-wing cross, but the 27-year-old lifted the ball over the bar from the edge of the box.

Some lovely passing from the Timbers gave substitute Gaston Fernandez a clear sight of goal, but this time it was the legs of the goalkeeper that stood in the home side’s way.

Adi was the next to challenge the Peruvian, but he held the loan man’s header comfortably after Valeri’s determined wing-play had produced the cross.

By now it was an onslaught, and – with a vocal crowd behind them – full backs Harrington and Villafana were providing constant options out wide, and Adi was again denied by Fernandez.

In the 77th minute though, Portland were awarded a penalty as the Nigerian went down under minimal contact from a bemused Watson.

There was some debate as to who was going to take the spot-kick, but Johnson scored from 12 yards in last week’s win at Real Salt Lake, and he converted again here.

Argentine forward Fernandez almost notched an equaliser with the game in its last ten minutes, getting on the end of Adi’s flick-on, turning and hitting the post with a low shot.

As though the constant pressure wasn’t enough, Dallas were reduced to ten men when Hernandez was punished for a horrific high challenge on Danny O’Rourke.

But it was very nearly game-over immediately, as a Ricketts error presented Moffat with the ball. He played in Castillo, but the former Deportivo Cali forward couldn’t make the most of the opening.

Having missed that chance, the visitors hopes of emerging victorious were hampered further as Perez joined Hernandez in the dressing room following a stamp on Kah.

And it was the giant centre-back who then exercised the two-man advantage with the equaliser. He controlled a scuffed effort on his chest in the area, and calmly placed the ball into the top corner.

Though the Timbers went looking for a winner that would have taken them above the Hoops, referee Alan Kelly called time, managing to avoid the wrath of an infuriated Castillo.

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