The LA Galaxy got a game-winning penalty kick from Sacha Kljestan during second-half stoppage time to deliver a dramatic 2-1 victory over the Portland Timbers at Dignity Health Sports Park on Saturday evening.

The Timbers were moments away from escaping with a solid road point after a second-half equalizer from Sebastian Blanco canceled out an opener from Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, but Kljestan's late spot-kick ensured the Galaxy a crucial three points as they look to stay afloat in the Western Conference's Audi MLS Cup Playoff race. The result snapped LA's nine-game winless streak and Portland's eight-game unbeaten run.

Both teams had good looks in the first 20 minutes, but were denied each time by reaction saves from the opposition goalkeeper. LA had the first one off a close-range effort from Hernandez, but Steve Clark made the deflected denial. Dario Zuparic nearly opened the scoring for Portland on the other end with a snap header off Yimmi Chara's cross, but his look was denied by Galaxy backstop Jonathan Bond.

After the first half ended scoreless, Hernandez broke the deadlock just past the hour-mark, capitalizing on a defensive miscue that saw Larrys Mabiala whiff on clearing a cross from Victor Vazquez. That allowed Hernandez to pounce at the far post and smash the opener into the roof of the net.

But the Galaxy couldn't maintain the lead, as Blanco struck for a shock equalizer on 72 minutes. The Argentine attacker sent a ball into the mixer that sailed over Bond and into the net at the far post, drawing the visitors level at 1-1 in improbable fashion.

The match looked destined to end in a draw, but the Galaxy snatched all three points at the last moment after Efrain Alvarez drew a foul in the Timbers box, giving Kljestan a look at the winner from the spot. The longtime MLS veteran made no mistake with the 92nd-minute finish, slotting home past a diving Clark to seal the dramatic victory.

Goals

  • 62' - LA - Javier Hernandez | WATCH
  • 72' - POR - Sebastian Blanco | WATCH
  • 90'+2' - LA - Sacha Kljestan | WATCH

Three Things

  • THE BIG PICTURE: It's a huge win for the Galaxy, who really needed all three points as they look to rebound from a recent lull in form that has them fighting for their playoff lives. This is the type of victory that can have a galvanizing effect, which head coach Greg Vanney will hope materializes down the stretch. It's a gut-punch for the Timbers, who went from salvaging a road point to taking a disappointing loss thanks to a pair of preventable defensive lapses. But Gio Savarese's group nonetheless maintains their current hold on the No. 4 spot in the Western Conference table.
  • MOMENT OF THE MATCH: This one was set to end on level terms until Alvarez drew a PK and Kljestan cashed home a 92nd-minute decisive goal.
  • MAN OF THE MATCH: It was another standout shift from Galaxy right back Julian Araujo, who was a menace down the flank and unlucky to not bag a couple of assists.

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