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Soccer

LAFC are the 2022 MLS Cup champions

One of the most dramatic MLS Cup finals ended with the home side prevailing after a penalty shoot out.

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Robert HanashiroUSA TODAY Sports

One of the most dramatic MLS Cup finals in memory ended in delight for Los Angeles FC and heartbreak for Philadelphia Union after the ‘black and gold’ were victorious following a penalty shoot out.

Both teams went into the final as champions of their respective conferences, the first time this had happened since 2003 with a new name destined to be engraved on the Philip F. Anschutz trophy with both LAFC and the Union participating in their first ever MLS Cup final.

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 05: Kellyn Acosta #23 of LAFC lifts the trophy to celebrate after winning the MLS Cup Final
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LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 05: Kellyn Acosta #23 of LAFC lifts the trophy to celebrate after winning the MLS Cup Final Omar VegaGetty

Things took a while to come to the boil and it was the home side who looked good value for their 1-0 lead at the break after Acosta’s deflected free-kick left Andre Blake with no chance.

The game came to life in the second half as Philly started to find a rhythm that had eluded Jim Curtin’s men in the first 45′ and they drew level as Gazdag was alert in steering home a wayward shot from Martinez.

Just when it seemed that nerves had the better of both teams as the clock ticked down, a fine driving header from Murillo appeared to seal the win for LAFC only for Elliot to nod level just 90 seconds later.

Extra time drama

Things took a turn for the worse for the home side as a poor backpass forced LAFC keeper Crepeau to leave his box and intercept but the Canadian collided with the Union’s Burke and was awarded a red card. The ‘Les Rouges’ stopper had to be stretchered from the pitch leaving his side with ten men and his World Cup dreams in doubt given the initial severity of the injury.

Los Angeles FC goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau
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Los Angeles FC goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau Jayne Kamin-OnceaUSA TODAY Sports

On came former Philly keeper John McCarthy and he could do little in the 123rd minute of the game when Elliot pounced to tap home from close range. Just when things seemed to be going the Union’s way, deep into added time, Wesh striker Gareth Bale, who had earlier replaced Carlos Vela rose majestically to nod home to the delight of a packed Banc of California stadium.

Nov 5, 2022; Los Angeles, California, US; Los Angeles FC forward Gareth Bale (11) celebrates with Los Angeles FC midfielder Ryan Hollingshead (24) after scoring a goal in overtime against Philadelphia Union at Banc of California Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
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Nov 5, 2022; Los Angeles, California, US; Los Angeles FC forward Gareth Bale (11) celebrates with Los Angeles FC midfielder Ryan Hollingshead (24) after scoring a goal in overtime against Philadelphia Union at Banc of California Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY SportsKelvin KuoUSA TODAY Sports

The Union lacked precision in the ensuing penalty shoot-out as Barcelona born Ille Sanchez scored the decisive kick to secure a first ever MLS Cup win for LAFC.