(David Villa – USA Today Sports)
David Villa scored twice in the final 10 minutes, but it was not enough to get New York City Football Club a win against the Columbus Crew SC, and they settled for a wild 3-3 draw at MAPFRE Stadium Saturday night.
Frank Lampard got the scoring started in the 41st minute with his ninth goal in the last 10 games. Columbus goalkeeper Steve Clark parried Andrea Pirlo’s 26-yard free kick off the post and Lampard pounced, tapping in from the edge of the six-yard box to give NYCFC the lead at the break.
Lampard had another chance three minutes earlier after Pirlo cut inside and outside of his defender to chip a ball into the box, but Clark pushed Lampard’s header over the bar for an NYCFC corner kick.
Columbus leveled in the 49th minute when Justin Meram latched onto a Waylon Francis corner and headed in from eight yards out.
The Crew took a 2-1 lead as Ethan Finlay scored from the penalty spot in the 80th minute.
Soon after, Villa tied it up with his 14th goal of the season in the 84th minute. The Captain settled a sublime ball over the top of the Crew defense by Andrea Pirlo and knocked in from just outside the six-yard box.
In the 92nd minute, Columbus’ Harrison Afful was called for a handball in the box. Villa took the resulting penalty kick and scored his 15th goal of the year, tied for the league lead to give NYCFC a 3-2 lead.
With the win in sight, Finlay got the equalizer in the 95th minute,, following a blocked shot to score from the edge of the six-yard box.
NYCFC Head Coach Patrick Vieira called it a “really exciting game” and said, “It was the type of game that everybody enjoyed and I really enjoyed it on the field because it was difficult for both teams. I think both teams, at times, played well. It was drama, if you call it like that. I hope the fan enjoyed it because it was a really good game of football with goals, with teams leading and the other teams coming back, change of tactics and it was of tension. I think that is the type of games that the MLS needs. It was a really good game of football. You had everything; you had the tension, you had the passions and it was good.”
NYCFC midfielder Thomas McNamara said of the game, “I think we were a little bit frustrated. I don’t think we played as well as we would have liked or could have. Credit to Columbus, they made it difficult on us, but I’m proud of the resiliency the team showed. To come back from giving up goals to get back into the game and take a lead … just unfortunate at the end.”
McNamara said of how important it is to get a road point, “Definitely. Coming in here to play against Columbus, they’re a good team, they’re in a spot where they’re at home and needed and wanted to get three points. To play against a good team like that and to be on the road and take a point, come home with a point, it’s going to serve us well at the end of the season. It’s something to kind of hang our hat on a little bit.”
With the point, NYC FC is now 10-8-7, 38 points, in first place in the Eastern Conference by one point ahead of Toronto.