Columbus Crew edge past Portland Timbers to move top of Eastern Conference
Ola Kamara celebrates putting the Crew ahead (Photo: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports)

Columbus Crew move to the top of the Eastern Conference aftera late goal helped them edge past the Portland Timbers 3-2 at the MAPFRE Stadium.

Justin Meram and Ola Kamara turned the game around in the space of eight first-half minutes for the Crew after Dairon Asprilla scored early for the Timbers.  

Fanendo Adi scored brilliantly on the turn in the second minute of first-half additional time to level the game.

Niko Hansen calmly slotted home six minutes before the end to earn Columbus their first win over Portland in four years.

Asprilla fires visitors ahead early in game

Both sides came into the game off the back of a win apiece, and the Timbers managed to find an early goal for the second game running.

Sebastián Blanco threaded a pass through to Asprilla, who picked his spot and fired across goal and into the corner of the net to break the deadlock.

The Crew, who last met Portland at home in the 2015 MLS Cup final, pressed and almost drew level three minutes later when a clever back-heel from Kamara went inches wide of the post.

However, the hosts were level on 11 minutes when Kamara’s header hit Portland’s Alvas Powell and broke for Meram, who smashed the ball home from close range.

Meram equalised on 11 minutes for the Crew (Photo: AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)
Meram equalised on 11 minutes for the Crew (Photo: AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

Crew turn game around and go ahead through Kamara

Columbus turned the game around completely just eight minutes later when they took their first lead in the game through a piece of brilliance.

Kamara broke through on goal after a ball over the top, and the forward lobbed the approaching Jake Gleeson from an angle and the ball sailed into the net.

Portland responded and a few chances fell their way inside a seven-minute spell, starting with Diego Valeri’s free-kick stinging the gloves of the ‘keeper.

Timbers captain Valeri came close once more after he hit the foot of the post with a drilled effort from just outside the area on the half-hour mark.

Adi equalised just  before half-time (Photo: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)
Adi equalised just before half-time (Photo: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Adi equalises for Portland on stroke of half-time

Valeri curled wide four minutes later, however, the visitors did manage to find an equaliser on the stroke of half-time.

Valeri let Powell’s cross run through his legs to let Adi take control, and the forward took a touch before unleashing his shot into the top corner to level the game going into the break.

Both sides picked up where they left off and started the second-half quickly, it was the visitors who could have went back ahead within 48 seconds of the restart.

Zarek Valentin headed a corner back across goal and Adi flicked the ball at goal, but was denied by a brilliant save from Zack Steffen.

The next opening, however, didn’t come until nine minutes from the end as both sides battled out to earn the three points, and the Crew should have been ahead once more.

Hosts score late to go top of Eastern Conference

Federico Higuaín shifted the ball wide before whipping a delightful cross into the box, but an unmarked Kamara headed over the bar.

The hosts, who have started the season brightly, managed to get back ahead in the game just three minutes after that miss.

Kamara chested Harrison Afful’s cross at goal, forcing a low save out of Gleeson before Hansen reacted quickly at the back post to slot home.

Columbus will look to continue their run of form as they play host to another unbeaten team in Orlando City to next Saturday, while Portland return back home to face New England Revolution that same day.

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