Stefano Bonomo of the Sacramento Republic celebrates his game-winning goal with his teammates in the club’s Third Round match against Fresno FC in the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Sacramento Republic
Sacramento Republic waited until the last minute to do it, but they defeated the visiting Fresno FC 1-0 in the Third Round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup on Wednesday night.
The game had mostly petered out, despite a few rockets sent in by Fresno, and it seemed destined to head to a penalty kick shootout. Until there was a slight collision along the right channel at the top of the 18 yard box, the ball was collected by Villyan Bijev and his cross sizzled past the face of the goal. The camera caught up to the play just in time to find a centering pass, back from just above the touchline, and towards the center of the scrum. After playing a full 122 minutes, forward Stefano Bonomo twisted his body and headed the ball home. Sealing Fresno’s demise and guaranteeing the Republic will be drawn into the Fourth Round of the Open Cup.
With the win, Sacramento advances to the Fourth Round for the fifth time in the club’s six-year history.
Fresno played their part from the very first moments of the match, with former Blackburn Rovers and Wolverhampton man Jemal Johnson working combination play with Juan Pablo Caffa in channels to create chances. Fresno’s forward, Qudus Lawal, has had a great month, with four goals in four appearances – including the winner in the club’s Second Round road win over El Farolito, but failed to make an impact tonight.
Additionally, despite the hard work by Renato Bustamonte and Seth Moses, the Foxes of Fresno just couldn’t crack Sacramento’s code. Fresno led Sacramento in shots and possession halfway through the first half, but by the end of the full 120 minutes, they succumbed to Sacramento’s home field advantage. In all competitions, Head Coach and former Sacramento assistant, Adam Smith has been defeated by his old club twice this season. Surely July 3 is circled on his calendar.
Sacramento should have won it in regular time though – Sam Werner, hero from Sacramento’s previous match against Reno 1868, struck a shot off the crossbar and past the goal line in the 65th minute of play. However, it bounced out so quickly that the goal was not awarded and play continued. Had VAR been used, the goal may have been given. Head coach Simon Elliot took a gamble and made a few changes to his lineup, they seemed to payoff in the end.
Sacramento sit 14th in their league table and have lost three of their last five. With another crucial match coming this Saturday, some regular starters had to sit, or come on later. Fresno, who sit third in their USL Championship table, will look to recover their positive form when they play away to Colorado Springs Switchbacks in the league.