20210424_ATLvsCHI

Atlanta United defeats Chicago Fire FC 3-1

Atlanta United defeated Chicago Fire FC 3-1 on Saturday night in its 2021 home opener at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Ezequiel Barco’s wondergoal gave Atlanta an early lead and Emerson Hyndman’s late goal sealed the win as Atlanta picked up its first win in league play.

Atlanta opened the scoring in the 23rd minute on a long-range strike from Barco. After drawing a foul, Barco hit the ensuing free kick into the Chicago wall, however the rebound fell to him outside the box and the Argentine midfielder blasted a right-footed shot that curled off the crossbar and into the top left corner of the goal.

Atlanta had a chance to score later in the half when Marcelino Moreno’s shot was deflected off the post, falling to Hyndman who hit the ball into the side net. Seconds later, Brad Guzan made a pair of big saves in the 38th minute, stopping the initial shot from Chinoso Offor and a second attempt off the rebound from close range.

However, Chicago was able to equalize less than a minute into the second half as Luka Stojanovic finished off a cross that eluded a few Atlanta defenders. Boris Sekulic found space along the right wing and one-touched a pass back across goal that just snuck by Atlanta’s center backs and found Stojanovic near the back post.

But Atlanta piled on the pressure as the second half carried on and finally pulled ahead in the 66th minute on an own goal from Johan Kappelhof. Moreno originally crossed into the box, forcing Chicago’s goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth to rush out, but he could only parry away, which immediately hit Kappelhof and redirected into the back of the net.

Hyndman doubled the lead and sealed the game in the 85th minute. Jürgen Damm did well to get around a defender and get to the end line before feeding Jake Mulraney near the edge of the six-yard box. Mulraney then danced around two defenders and nearly finished off a wondergoal of his own; however, Shuttleworth saved it. The rebound fell to Hyndman who hammered the ball into the back of the net.

Atlanta (1-0-1, 4 points) will take on Philadelphia Union in the 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals First Leg at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Tuesday, April 27 (8 p.m. ET, FS1/TUDN). It’s next MLS match is against New England Revolution Saturday, May 1 (8:00 p.m. ET, CW69, atlutd.com/live, Star 94.1).

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