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Josef Martinez’s two goals push Atlanta United past Loons


Josef Martinez scored two goals in second-half stoppage time, sealing Atlanta United’s 3-0 home win over Minnesota United on Wednesday night.

Atlanta (7-5-2, 23 points) was coming off back-to-back road losses following a five-game winning streak, but it ended the brief skid by registering a fourth straight home win.

Minnesota (6-5-3, 21 points) came into the match off two consecutive wins, but the Loons dropped to 3-5-0 on the road this season.

The game-winner came in the 23rd minute when Franco Escobar put one home from 15 yards out. The right back worked his way into the penalty box, got to a free ball, then knocked it into the side panel for his first goal of the season.

It was the first goal Minnesota had allowed in 260 minutes, as the Loons came into the game off two straight 1-0 shutouts.

In the first minute of second-half stoppage time, Martinez scored off an assist from Julian Gressel.

With the Loons then forced to push forward trailing 2-0, the reigning MLS Most Valuable Player made them pay again four minutes into stoppage time with his second goal. Martinez has a team-leading eight goals.

Before the final two tallies, the big moment of the game for Atlanta came in the 74th minute, when Minnesota nearly drew even.

A series of chances in the Atlanta penalty area was culminated by a header from Angelo Rodriguez that appeared destined for the back of the net. However, Atlanta United goalie Brad Guzan was equal to the task, making his third save in short order, with the final one knocking the ball off the line to keep the lead.

In the first half, Atlanta had trouble getting anything going inside the Minnesota penalty box as the Loons were content to play five across the back line against the potent Atlanta attack.

The hosts finished with a 15-11 edge in shots and a 8-3 advantage in shots on target. Loons goalie Vito Mannone made five saves.

REUTERS/Field Level Media

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