The LA Galaxy got a game-winning penalty kick from Sacha Kljestan in second-half stoppage time to deliver a dramatic 2-1 victory over the Portland Timbers at Dignity Health Sports Park on Saturday.

The Timbers were just moments away from escaping with a solid road point after a second-half equalizer from Sebastian Blanco canceled out an opener from Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, but Kljestan's late spot-kick ensured the Galaxy a crucial three points as they look to stay afloat in the Western Conference playoff race.

Both teams had good looks in the first 20 minutes, but were denied each time by reaction saves from the opposition goalkeeper. LA had the first one off a close-range effort from Hernandez, but Steve Clark was able to make the deflected denial. Dario Zuparic nearly opened the scoring for Portland on the other end with a snap header off a cross from Yimmi Chara, but he had his look denied by Galaxy backstop Jonathan Bond.

After the first half ended scoreless, Hernandez would open the scoring just past the hour-mark, capitalizing on a defensive miscue that saw Larrys Mabiala whiff on a clearance of a cross from Victor Vazquez. That allowed Hernandez to pounce at the far post and smash the opener into the roof of the net.

But the Galaxy would be unable to maintain the lead, as Blanco struck for a shock equalizer on 72 minutes. The standout Argentine sent a ball into the mixer that sailed over Bond and into the net at the far post, drawing the visitors level at 1-1 in improbable fashion.

The match looked destined to end in a draw, but the Galaxy snatched all three points at the last moment after Efrain Alvarez drew a foul in the Timbers box, giving Kljestan a look at the winner from the spot. The longtime MLS veteran made no mistake with the finish, slotting home the winner past a diving Clark to seal the dramatic victory.

Goals

  • 62' - LA - Javier Hernandez
  • 72' - POR - Sebastian Blanco
  • 90'+2' - LA - Sacha Kljestan