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Atlanta United took the lead twice, but league-leading NYCFC answered both times in a thrilling 2-2 draw Sunday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Both teams traded chances for the first 29 minutes, but Greg Garza and Atlanta United broke through first. Miguel Almiron picked up the pieces of his own deflected pass and charged into the box. NYCFC allowed him plenty of room to on his left side and the left-footed Almiron pushed a shot toward the left side of the net. Sean Johnson made the initial save but Garza followed the shot and finished the tap in to put Atlanta on top.
The lead only lasted eight minutes.
In the 38th minute NYCFC strung together the prettiest string of passes of the day to play Jo Inge Berget into space on the left side. A recovering Michael Parkhurst clipped Berget in the 18-yard-box and the Pigeons were awarded a much-deserved penalty.
David Villa, who entered minutes earlier as a substitute, stepped up to the spot and slipped the ball past Brad Guzan.
Moments later it appeared that Atlanta had reclaimed the lead. Darlington Nagbe took a back pass from Julian Gressel 20 yards away from goal and one-timed the ball into the left side of the net. The dude reacted with the enthusiasm of a man who just made a cup of coffee in what appeared to be a glimpse into a cold-blooded killer mentality Nagbe had long kept hidden from the public. Instead, it turned out it was the reaction of a man who knew his goal was about to be disallowed. After a brief review from our friends in the VAR lair deep beneath the ocean, Josef Martinez was shown to have impacted the play from an offside position by shielding Sean Johnson. Unsurprisingly, VAR’s decision met negative reviews post-match.