Riqui Puig converted a penalty kick with the final kick of the game after teammate Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez had his earlier penalty saved, and the visiting Los Angeles Galaxy salvaged a 1-1 draw with Nashville SC on Saturday afternoon.
Joe Willis nearly saved Puig’s penalty as well with a dive to his left after diving to his right to deny Chicharito in a result that ultimately extends both teams’ unbeaten runs to six games. He dove left on Puig’s effort, but could not get strong enough contact with his palm to keep it from crossing over the goal line.
Hany Mukhtar also scored from the spot in the 29th minute for his MLS-leading 22nd goal as Nashville (12-9-10, 46 points) moved momentarily into third in the Western Conference, ahead of FC Dallas on the second tiebreak of goal differential . Dallas and the rest of the West play later on Saturday.
Puig’s second goal for the Galaxy (11-11-7, 40 points) since his arrival and first penalty kick of his pro career helped eighth-place LA close the gap to two points on the seventh and final West playoff berth. After Saturday, the Galaxy will have a match in hand on all teams above them in the standings.
From the spot and the run of play, Willis was the far busier goalkeeper, making seven saves on an afternoon the Galaxy created most of the more dangerous chances.
Both Mukhtar and Puig’s spot kicks were awarded by referee Chris Penso for hand balls following video review.
It was Chicharito who took the shot that led to the equalizer, an effort from just inside the penalty area towards goal that struck defender Walker Zimmerman’s right arm.
Zimmerman had no time to react to the shot and keep his hand out of the way. But Penso ruled the defender’s arm was extended enough from his body to award the penalty and hand Zimmerman a second yellow card of the match, sending him off for the final moments.
Mukhtar earned his penalty himself when he took a 27th-minute free kick from just beyond the area that struck the extended elbow of center back Derrick Williams in the defensive wall.
His penalty was easily the best of the three taken in the match, sent the opposite way of goalkeeper Jonathan Bond into the bottom left corner.
–Field Level Media
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