LAFC booked their place in the Western Conference Final with a dramatic 3-2 win over arch-rivals LA Galaxy on Thursday.
A fixture that never, ever disappoints, El Trafico delivered the goods once again with chances at both ends, regular flash points, and five goals in a thrilling encounter.
Despite the Galaxy controlling the early stages, it was LAFC who struck first with Gabonese winger Denis Bouanga shrugging off Douglas Costa and firing home from an excellent Carlos Vela through-ball.
However, the Galaxy pulled themselves level just before half-time thanks to Samuel Grandsir’s powerful effort into the far corner, receiving the ball via a terrible headed clearance from Eddie Segura.
After some second-half sparring, Bouanga once again gave LAFC the lead in the 80th minute, reaching a Ryan Hollingshead cross at the far post thanks to a flick-on by Kwadwo Opoku.
But that lead lasted just five minutes with Dejan Joveljic once again fulfilling his role as super sub, blasting home a golazo from outside the box with pretty much his first touch of the game.
The game looked to be heading for extra-time but, incredibly, and in true Trafico style, we found an LAFC winner with Colombian striker Cristian Arango poaching home inside the six-yard box after Jonathan Bond spilled another Bouanga effort.
With the Galaxy heading home, LAFC now await the winner of the Texas Derby between Austin FC and FC Dallas.
Read on for full player ratings from yet another incredible clash between LAFC and the LA Galaxy:
GK: Maxime Crepeau – 6/10 – No chance with either Galaxy goal. Did well otherwise.
RB: Ryan Hollingshead – 7/10 – Looked defensively solid and made his one true offensive contribution count with the cross that led to Bouanga’s second.
CB: Eddie Segura – 4/10 – An overall decent game but cost LAFC a goal with a poor headed clearance straight to Grandsir.
CB: Jesus Murillo – 5/10 – Did his best to get Puig sent off. Erratic and lived on the edge throughout.
LB: Diego Palacios – 7/10 – Neat and tidy on the ball and completed all of his defensive work.
CM: Jose Cifuentes – 4/10 – A quiet performance by his standards, compiled by a terrible miss from a free header.
CM: Ilie Sanchez – 7/10 – Had to spend more time than usual without the ball, blocking passing lanes and making interceptions. Still secure and progressive when he did get possession, though.
CM: Kellyn Acosta – 5/10 – Worked hard but really didn’t see enough of the ball.
RW: Carlos Vela – 8/10 – Provided a wonderful pass for Bouanga’s opener and kept Edwards on the back foot throughout.
ST: Cristian Arango – 9/10 – Barely saw the ball and yet still played his part in the Black and Gold’s second goal before scoring the dramatic winner.
LW: Denis Bouanga – 9/10 – Deserved his goals after some excellent recent performances, including this one.
SUB: Kwadwo Opoku (78′, for Vela) – 8/10 – Provided the assist for Bouanga’s second goal within moments of coming onto the field.
SUB: Giorgio Chiellini (90+5, for Arango) – N/A
SUB: Jhegson Mendez (90+5, for Cifuentes) – N/A
GK: Jonathan Bond – 2/10 – Not his best day, flapping at a few crosses and spilling a shot to Arango for the LAFC winner.
RB: Julian Araujo – 6/10 – Not as influential as usual but still had his moments.
CB: Sega Coulibaly – 3/10 – Switched off at key moments to allow LAFC chances inside the Galaxy box.
CB: Martin Caceres – 5/10 – More solid than Coulibaly but the two struggled to form a coherent partnership all night.
LB: Raheem Edwards – 4/10 – Was pinned back by Vela and often struggled to get to grips with the Mexican, despite turning in some high defensive numbers.
CM: Marco Delgado – 6/10 – Tidy on the ball but a little too safe.
CM: Gaston Brugman – 7/10 – A clean and progressive performance in possession and combative without the ball.
CM: Riqui Puig – 8/10 – Lucky not to be sent off early on but recovered to largely dictate the tempo of this match. A magician.
RW: Douglas Costa – 4/10 – Totally shrugged off for the LAFC opener and barely looked like threatening. No surprise to see him subbed out early.
ST: Chicharito – 4/10 – Way below his usual standards. Just couldn’t get into the game.
LW: Samuel Grandsir – 8/10 – Scored an excellent equalizer after hitting the bar earlier in the game. Ran out of steam after half-time.
SUB: Kevin Cabral (58′, for Costa) – 4/10 – Barely affected the game.
SUB: Victor Vazquez (68′, for Grandsir) – 7/10 – Assisted Joveljic’s goal and looked lively during his cameo.
SUB: Dejan Joveljic (84′, for Delgado) – 8/10 – Peak Joveljic.
SUB: Derrick Williams (84′, for Caceres) – N/A
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