Jamaican Johnson brace seals Phoenix come-from-behind win

Saturday, October 07, 2017

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NEW YORK, United States (CMC) — Jamaican Jason Johnson moved his tally for the season to 12 goals after scoring twice — including the winner — to help Phoenix Rising FC edge Tampa Bay Rowdies 4-3 in a thrilling encounter in the United Soccer League on Wednesday night.

The 26-year-old forward scored once in the first half to add to former Chelsea star Didier Drogba's brace, as Phoenix came from behind to lock the scores 3-3 at the half-time whistle.

Johnson then covered himself in glory when he found the winner in the second half.

The victory strengthened Phoenix's play-off hopes, remaining fifth in the Western conference but moving to 52 points to close the gap on Reno 1868 FC, Swope Park Rangers and San Antonio FC, who are tied on 55 points in second, third and fourth, respectively.

Playing at the Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex, Phoenix were stunned by the visitors when Joaquin Rivas scored in the 12th minute and Juan Pablo Caffa added a second two minutes later.

Drogba started the comeback in the 16th minute when he climbed onto the end of a diagonal ball into the box to beat goalkeeper Fabian Cerda at the far post with a powerful header.

And Phoenix were level three minutes later when Amadou Dia raced down the left side and laid off for Johnson to volley home from inside the six-yard box.

Drogba put the hosts ahead from the spot in the 24th minute before Christian Thierjung restored parity for the visitors in the 30th minute.

With the game all square at the half, it was Johnson who secured the points in the 66th minute when he evaded three defenders to slot home from the tightest of angles from close range on the left side of the six-yard box.

At the Al Lang Stadium in St Petersburg, Florida, Jamaican Junior Flemmings also got on the scoresheet but in a losing cause as New York Red Bulls went down 2-3 to Tampa Bay Rowdies.

Stefano Bonomo put the visitors in front in the 16th minute but Joe Cole equalised two minutes later, and Marcel Schafer added a brace in the 25th and 45th minute to put the Rowdies on top.

Flemmings pulled one back for Red Bulls in the ninth minute following the resumption when he ran onto a long ball out of the back from Arun Basuljevic and beat custodian Matt Pickens with a low shot.

The defeat left Red Bulls still inside the play-off zone in the Eastern conference but just barely, as they lie eighth on 41 points — a single point ahead of Bethlehem Steel.

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