Zlatan Ibrahimovic, back from an Achilles injury, scored twice from the penalty spot to give the LA Galaxy a 2-1 win over the Portland Timbers.
With this win for the Galaxy, they remain undefeated at the Dignity Health Sports Park, winning all three matches so far. Currently, LA sits on nine points four matches into the season and sit in fifth place in the Western Conference.
Because of the return of Ibrahimovic and Romain Alessandrini, Guillermo Barros Schelotto made a few changes to his starting lineup. They returned to 4-2-3-1 formation with Ibrahimovic at the top and Alessandrini out in his usual right wing spot. Sebastian Lletget dropped underneath the Swedish striker, while Uriel Antuna returned to the left flank.
In the early goings of the match, Portland had the first couple of looks on goal. Diego Valeri, three minutes in, hit a shot into the arms of David Bingham before Sebastian Blanco did the same moments later.
Both sides score in opening half
After Portland’s initial attempts, the Galaxy seized control during the next portion of the opening half. Ibrahimovic found Jørgen Skjelvik with a perfectly weighted pass into space on the left. However, the Norwegian defender took a couple of touches before firing a cross back towards goal which was cleared away.
Three minutes later, Ibrahimovic somehow was able to hit the near post with his back towards goal. Julio Cascante was draped all over the striker, but that did not slow down the veteran striker, as he reached up with his right foot and hit the bottom of the post.
Shortly after the 20th minute, Skjelvik made up for his previous error. Ibrahimovic found him in space down the left once more, and this time, hit his cross first time. The initial ball in was cleared by Portland, but Daniel Steres was there on the follow to send his attempt into the Angel City Brigade.
The French winger flicked a pass at Ibrahimovic in the 32nd minute. Claude Dielna ran into the back of the Swede and referee Ted Unkel pointed to the spot immediately. Ibrahimovic stepped up and sent Jeff Attinella the wrong way before slotting into the bottom left corner.
With minutes to go until halftime, the Galaxy defense switched off and allowed Portland to find the equalizing goal. Diego Chara started the build up through the middle as the Timbers passed their way in behind before Jeremy Ebobisse finished off the move.
At the start of the second half, opportunities came few and far between. Alessandrini and Feltscher won a couple of free kicks, but no chances were created as a result.
Ibrahimovic scores second from the spot
Portland’s goalkeeper, in the 62nd minute, slid into Ibrahimovic’s legs which resulted in the Galaxy’s second penalty kick of the night. The 37-year-old took the spot kick once more, but this time, converting a Panenka, as he chipped the ball right down the middle.
Ibrahimovic could have had a third goal in the dying moments of the match. Skjelvik made a darting run down the left side of the pitch. His cross, though, was too high for the Galaxy’s captain to be able to hit the target. Had the delivery been hit lower, Ibrahimovic could have completed his hat trick.
The LA Galaxy hit the road next time out, as they travel north of the border to take on the Vancouver Whitecaps. Kickoff for this Friday night match is scheduled for 7:00 PM at BC Place.