Jefferson Savarino was not at his best for 80+ minutes of Real Salt Lake’s home playoff match with the Portland Timbers on Saturday. However, the Venezuelan saved the best moment for last as his 87th minute finish propelled RSL into the Western Conference semifinals.
Savarino’s first career playoff goal handed RSL a 2-1 win over the defending Western Conference champs and sets up a trip to the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday.
With his team struggling for much of the second-half, Savarino took advantage of a fortunate bounce and beat Steve Clark to the bottom corner. It was a composed finish for the speedster, who had earlier chances to possibly put his name on the scoresheet.
RSL dominated the opening half with Damir Kreilach’s perfect header handing them a 1-0 lead in the 28th minute. Corey Baird’s pinpoint cross found the head of the Croatian who beat a busy Clark to the right corner.
Dairon Asprilla’s header in the 47th minute however leveled the match for Giovanni Savarese’s team to give them some life.
Nick Rimando came up clutch with several second-half saves to keep RSL from going behind. His left palm denied Sebastian Blanco’s long-range effort in the 65th minute before also keeping out substitute Diego Valeri and Bill Tuiloma.
Valeri had another good chance to put Portland in front, but missed his right-footed attempt wide of goal from the top of the box.
With both teams pushing for a late winning goal, it was Savarino who sent RSL into the next round of the playoffs. RSL would hang on to punch its ticket into the semifinals, while Portland sees their season end prematurely.
Man of the Match
Savarino’s composed finish gave RSL the win and another match to play this coming week.
Moment of the Match
After it looked like RSL would run away with a few goals, it was Portland who were the more dangerous in the second-half. Nick Rimando made several important saves, but his best came on Blanco from long-range.
Match to Forget
Valeri came off the bench in hopes of sparking a comeback, however the Argentine was denied in front of goal once and missed a sitter later in the half.