Sports

Vancouver Whitecaps hold off Timbers 4-3

By Michael Orr, The Canadian Press

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Vancouver Whitecaps can finally say they've beaten their archrivals in Major League Soccer.

Pablo Morales scored twice on penalty kicks as Vancouver defeated Portland 4-3 on Sunday for the Whitecaps' first win against the Timbers since both teams entered the league in 2011.

Erik Hurtado and Jordan Harvey also scored for the Whitecaps (5-2-5), who led 4-1 but had to fend off a late rally by the Timbers to stay unbeaten in five straight games.

Portland put a scare into the Whitecaps with goals in the 77th and 86th minutes but Vancouver's offence was too much for the Timbers to handle, according to Hurtado.

"No matter what we're going to attack," he said. "Whether we're at home, whether we're away, whether we're down, whether we're up, we're going to try to score goals. That's the kind of team we are."

Maximiliano Urruti, Gaston Fernandez and Will Johnson scored for Portland (3-4-7), which had its 22-game unbeaten run at home end.

Urruti scored an impressive opener after just three minutes and Vancouver goalkeeper David Ousted saved a second goal in the first 10 minutes with a sprawling dive on a goal-bound Johnson shot moments later.

In the 15th minute the game's momentum shifted as Hurtado drew a penalty against Portland defender Jack Jewsbury following a darting run into the box. Morales converted in the 16th minute, drawing the game even against the run of play.

Vancouver was awarded a second penalty nine minutes later when Jorge Villafana tackled Sebastian Fernandez inside the box. Kekuta Manneh's run sparked the play but the crowd didn't appreciate the call for a second consecutive spot kick. Morales converted again, increasing his team-leading goal total to five.

The Whitecaps were lucky not to concede a penalty of their own when Diego Valeri was tackled from behind in the box but referee Kevin Stott withheld his whistle and play continued despite the protests of Portland coach Caleb Porter.

Hurtado concluded his strong first half by scoring a rebounded goal after a sharp cross from Morales deep in injury time. Donovan Ricketts saved Hurtado's initial shot but the ricochet deflected off of the Portland native's knee and bounced over the line for a 3-1 advantage.

Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson praised the play of Hurtado, who grew up in the Portland suburbs and played for the Timbers' under-23 team before being drafted by the Whitecaps in 2013.

"He's been superb," said Robinson. "When you (play in front of family and friends) as a young player, you try to go away from the things that you're good at. He didn't do that. I thought his movement was excellent and he got his reward with the goal."

Robinson replaced Manneh with Russell Teibert to open the second half as Vancouver downshifted to more comfortably manage the expected Portland attack. Yet it was the Whitecaps who struck first after the break with Morales crossing to left back Harvey, who fired into the bottom right corner for a 4-1 advantage in the 49th minute.

Portland changed its offensive plan by inserting forwards Fanendo Adi and Fernandez for the ineffective Steve Zakuani and Urruti, respectively, but the visitors held their ground for much of the second half.

Finally, Fernandez headed in a Valeri cross to cut the deficit to two goals in the 77th minute. Ousted then dove to save an Adi shot in the 84th minute but was helpless when Adi juggled the ball and flicked it to Johnson, who hammered home Portland's third in the 86th.

The Whitecaps withstood a barrage of late pressure thanks to key saves from Ousted and strong performances from defenders Jay DeMerit and Andy O'Brien.

After the game, Robinson was still focused on his team's effective attack.

"If you'd said to me before the game, would I take a 4-3, I would've," he said. "I know we're a team that can score goals. I said all along I'd rather win 4-3 than 1-0."

Vancouver next travels to Philadelphia to play the Union on Saturday.

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