Thanks to a three-goal comeback by the visitors, Columbus Crew SC and Toronto FC played to a 3-3 draw in Columbus Saturday.
The clubs’ stars shone brightly, with Kei Kamara, Ethan Finlay, Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore all padding their stats in the wide-open match.
League-leaders Kamara and Finlay highlighted Crew SC’s evening, extending their goal and assist leads, respectively.
But it was an 89th-minute penalty that drew Toronto level and ripped out the hearts of Crew SC, who blew a 3-0 lead in less than a half.
WATCH: Jozy Altidore equalizes the match from the PK spot
The match began with the field heavily tilted toward Toronto’s end. The Reds came out in a puzzling 3-5-2 formation that left Columbus’s dangerous fullbacks and wide players with too much space on the wings.
And after several minutes of Crew SC throwing numbers forward, the League’s hottest player capitalized on his first opportunity of the night.
Finlay, pestering defenders as usual, found himself underneath a bouncing ball in the Toronto box. Rather than controlling it or putting in a cross, the winger turned and fired a shot toward goal.
Joe Bendik did well to get a hand on the shot, but the ricochet found the head of Federico Higuain, who calmly nodded it over to a wide-open Kamara for a powerful header that gave the club a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute.
Crew SC would add another in the 36th minute. Finlay tried to control a through ball, but let the pass bounce off the back of his foot. Fortunately for Columbus, Tony Tchani was sitting directly behind him, ready to calmly slot a shot past Bendik to give the club a 2-0 lead.
Columbus seemed to be cruising to an easy win as the second half began, extending its lead to 3-0 just three minutes after the break thanks to a perfect through ball from Justin Meram to a darting Finlay, who notched his seventh goal of the season between Bendik’s legs.
But the match was far from over, and Toronto would respond almost instantly.
CHECK OUT TEAM STATISTICS FROM THE GAME
Just two minutes later, Collen Warner found Giovinco with a gorgeous looping ball to the back post. The Italian hit a laser first-time shot past Steve Clark.
And after another five minutes, the match became a one-goal affair. Daniel Lovitz slid a dangerous ball through the Crew SC box and to Warner, who slammed a well-placed shot into the corner of the Columbus goal, bringing the scoreline to a slim 3-2 lead for Crew SC.
For the first time in the match, Altidore made his presence known in the 88th minute. The striker stopped short on a cross in the Crew SC box, and defender Waylon Francis ran into him.
Referee Fotis Bozakos decided that the collision was a foul, and gave a penalty to the visitors, much to the dismay of a baffled Crew SC squad.
Rather than dead ball specialist Giovinco, it was Altidore himself who took the kick, slotting home an effortless penalty to bring the match to its 3-3 final that seemed deflating for Columbus and a miracle for Toronto.
With the draw, Crew SC (8-7-7) remain three points ahead of Toronto (8-7-4). Columbus travels to Orlando for their next match Aug. 1, while Toronto visits the New England Revolution.