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Jamal Thiaré scores a sneaky match winner to lift Atlanta United above Toronto FC

Jamal Thiaré scores a sneaky match winner to lift Atlanta United above Toronto FC
Jamal Thiaré scores a sneaky match winner to lift Atlanta United above Toronto FC

Atlanta United created magic at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday evening.

In injury time of the second half, the 1-1 duel with Toronto seemed to be reaching its last gasp. Atlanta United had just made it a final score after a corner kick that Toronto goalkeeper Luka Gavran had conceded. As time expired, the Eastern Conference sides looked set to draw level and take a point each.

As Gavran held the ball to clear it, he didn’t seem to notice Thiaré looming behind him. The goalkeeper laid the ball upfield — a serious mistake. At the right moment, Thiaré spotted his window. He crept inside and stealthily stole the ball. The striker circled to get himself toward the goal, Gavran chased him in panic and fired into the open net. The incredible 97th-minute finish sent the Mercedes-Benz Stadium into a roaring, excited frenzy.

“I would say I’m on the young side of coaching and the young side of the game, but I’ve never seen anything like it,” interim head coach Rob Valentino said in his post-game press conference. “I joked to Dax (McCarty), after I ridiculously sprinted down the sideline, that he’s been playing for 20 years now and I bet he’s never seen a finish like that. It was unbelievable, bizarre, but I’m glad we’re on this side of it.”

Atlanta United won the match 2-1, their first home win since March. Being on the right side, the memorable game winner extends Atlanta United’s current unbeaten run to four under Valentino: two wins, two draws.

“I think we really needed that win, not just a win, but a win at home to get back to the fans because they deserve it emotionally,” Caleb Wiley said. “It was a confidence boost. We’re back on the road next week, two away games, two tough opponents. So the guys are pretty pumped after this win and we’ll go to New England and try to do the same.” thing.”