LAFC beats Philadelphia to return to CCL finals

LAFC is returning to the CONCACAF Champions League final after beating the Philadelphia Union 3-0 on Tuesday night at BMO Stadium to advance from the semifinals 4-1 on aggregate.

The defending MLS Cup champions held a narrow advantage coming into match after scoring an away goal in the 1-1 draw in Philadelphia on April 26, and they ended up running away with the second leg with goals from Timothy Tillman, Kwadwo Opoku and Denis Bouanga.

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The opener came on 13 minutes after Andre Blake got down and to his right to make an incredible save on Ilie Sanchez’s header following a corner kick, but Tillman — the older brother of United States international Malik — was there to pounce on the rebound and finish from a tight angle.

LAFC keeper John McCarthy made a point-blank save on Daniel Gazdag in the 23rd minute and the the Union’s No. 10 dragged a shot just wide of the far post as the half wore on as the home side took a 1-0 lead into the break.

Olivier Mbaizo picked up his second yellow card of the match in the 59th minute for a hard foul on Bouanga, leaving Jim Curtin’s side to chase an equalizer with only 10 players.

Substitute Opoku missed a chance shortly before coming on, but he made no mistake in the 82nd minute after picking up Carlos Vela’s pass into the area and smashing a knuckling left-footed shot right through the arms of Blake to put the match away for LAFC.

Bounga added a third for Steve Cherundolo’s side right before full-time with a clever assist from Jose Cifuentes that sealed passage to the final for LAFC, which will face the winner of Wedensday’s other semifinal between Liga MX sides Leon and Tigres.

The final could be a chance for redemption for LAFC, which lost the COVID-19 pandemic affected 2020 edition by a final score of 2-1 to champions Tigres.

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