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Match Recap & Highlights: Portland Thorns 3 - 3 Angel City
Portland Thorns hosted Angel City in a weird week where we got unexpected results - and NWSL After Dark was at its best.
The Portland Thorns salvaged a 3-3 draw at home against Angel City FC in a wild NWSL After Dark Special. A goal from Alyssa Thompson, a Portland own goal, and Julie Ertz’s first goal since her return to the NWSL had the visitors thinking they had three points locked up. But goals by Hina Sugita, Morgan Weaver, and ultimately a dramatic last-gasp backheel goal by Portland’s goalkeeper Bella Bixby rescued a point for the Thorns.
Angel City started on the front foot, winning some corners that Claire Emslie put in the Thorns’ box. Just 10 minutes into the game, the visitors get themselves ahead thanks to a goal scored by the talented rookie Alyssa Thompson.
After that, the Californian team kept winning the ball in the midfield and sending crosses from the wings, putting Portland’s defense line in trouble.
Nonetheless, Hina Sugita leveled things up after Julie Ertz fouled her USWNT teammate Crystal Dunn and therefore, the Thorns’ won a PK. The Japanese attacker buried that ball in the back of the net.
Despite the blow, the Californian team kept putting the Thorns against the wall with Thompson being the MVP of the first half.
For Portland, Dunn did pretty well in the first half, contributing offensively and defensively and, of course, getting the PK that gave Portland the equalizer.
Coach Mike Norris started to move the bench and Olivia Moultrie came into the match. It was her who made a beautiful through pass to Weaver, so she could score and momentarily give Portland a 2-1 lead.
After that, the visitors scored two more goals — an own goal from the head of Natalia Kuikka off a corner kick, and a go-ahead goal from the head of Julie Ertz off a set piece — and it looked like they were going to finish Portland’s 11 game unbeaten streak.
But then, in the dying seconds of the game, something unexpected and amazing happened. With Portland having one last corner kick, goalkeeper Bella Bixby came up and put her tall frame into the box, in the hopes of getting on the end of the cross. Sam Coffey’s corner was initially claimed by DiDi Haracic, but the Angel City ‘keeper spilled it on her way to the ground. The ball rolled to the feet of Bixby, who audaciously flicked the ball backwards with her foot and into the back of the net.
At the death, the Thorns earned a draw via a backheel goal from their goalkeeper Bella Bixby. An incredible sentence to write, and incredible end to the game.
8’ Sam Coffey passes the ball to Natalia Kuikka who fires but it goes high.
10’ Angel City Goal. 0-1 Alyssa Thompson gets rid of Kelli Hubly and shoots to the near post, beating Bella Bixby.
16’ McCaskill shoots and it hits the crossbar.
26’ Natalia Kuikka fires but the ball goes directly to DiDi Haracic’s gloves.
28’ Corner for Portland. The ball gets to Rodríguez, who shoots but Angel City defense blocks it. Morgan Weaver gets the rebound but her finish sails high.
29’ PK for Portland! Weaver sends a low cross and Julie Ertz tried to block that pass but tackles Dunn while trying to do so.
32’ SUGITA GOAL! 1-1 She levels the game from the penalty spot.
34’ Big block by Kelli Hubly! She blocks Emslie's shot that was going on frame and could’ve been the 2-1 for Angel City.
Halftime: The teams went into the locker rooms locked at 1-1.
51’ Christine Sinclair sends a service to Dunn, who heads it and doesn’t get in for mere inches.
53’ Savannah McCaskill switches the point of attack from left to right to Emslie who shoots and misses by little.
55’ Substitutions: Meaghan Nally enters for Menges, Olivia Moultrie enters for Dunn, Smith enters for Sugita.
60’ Meghan Klingenberg shoots but it goes too high.
66’ MORGAN WEAVER GOAL! 2-1 A beautiful through ball gives Weaver the chance to beat DiDi Haracic first and then Ali Riley to score the 2-1.
74’ Angel City equalizes through Kuikka’s OG.
76’ Substitution: Izzy D’Aquila enters for Christine Sinclair.
77’ Kuikka gets a yellow card.
79’ Ertz scores for Angel City.
82’ Great pass by Weaver to Moultrie who can’t give proper direction to that ball to beat Haracic.
86’ Substitution: Adriana Leon enters for Rocky.
This is indeed a special team and Providence Park is truly a place where special things can happen. Bella Bixby scoring brought back old memories of Michelle Betos scoring a header in the dying minutes of a game against Kansas City in the same scenario — the only other time a goalkeeper has scored a goal in the NWSL.
It’s fair to say that everybody lost their minds when that happened and this time was no different. After the game, Bixby shared that her late father would’ve “gone bananas” if he would’ve seen her score and that she thought of him when it happened.
About the game, Weaver shared that they will have to watch film to see what exactly went wrong, while coach Norris said that Angel City brought a lot of energy.
The Thorns were close to losing their 11-game unbeaten streak and the fact that they could keep it, and more so at home and in this fashion, speaks volumes about what Portland is capable of this year.
Let’s see how it goes against North Carolina, their next opponent, a team against they struggled a lot against last season. The game against the Courage will be played in Cary, NC at 4 p.m. PT next Saturday, May 6.