The Portland Timbers rallied back on two occasions in the second half on goals by forward Sebastián Rincón and midfielder Rodney Wallace to pull level with Aston Villa FC, but the English Premier League side would prevail in a penalty-kick shootout, 5-4, to claim the win in an international friendly before a sellout crowd of 20,438 at JELD-WEN Field on Tuesday Night.
Down 1-0 heading into the final 15 minutes of the match, the Timbers opened a thrilling conclusion that saw three goals scored in a five-minute span. Rincón pulled the Timbers even at 1-1 with the initial equalizer off a corner kick in the 76th minute. Aston Villa re-claimed the lead at 2-1 in the 80th minute on a strike by defender Matthew Lowton, but less than a minute later, the Timbers answered once again on a well-placed goal by Wallace to knot the score at 2-2 and push match to penalties.
The two clubs matched goal-for-goal in the penalty-kick shoot out until Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan made a stop on Portland’s fifth attempt by Bright Dike. Aston Villa midfielder Samir Carruthers provided the decisive goal in the shootout to help the EPL side earn the victory.
Lowton and defender Ciaran Clark each scored goals off of corner kicks and midfielder Barry Bannan logged two assists for Aston Villa. The club capped a three-city, preseason tour of the United States on Tuesday in Portland. The club had defeated both the Philadelphia Union and Chicago Fire, 1-0, in the first two stops of its tour; Aston Villa opens the 2012-13 EPL season Aug. 18 against West Ham United.
Rincón and Wallace scored their first goals of the season and defender Ryan Kawulok and midfielder Franck Songo’o each registered an assist for the Timbers. Portland ran out 20 players in the exhibition, allowing both Rincón and midfielder Charles Renken to play their first minutes of the season with the first team.
Aston Villa cracked the deadlock in the 42nd minute, as Clark scored his first goal of the club’s preseason tour to the United States. On a corner kick from the right side, Bannan sent in a hard, in-swinging ball to the back post, where Clark was making a run. Clark bounced a header past Timbers goalkeeper Troy Perkins as he got across his line.
Moments earlier, Perkins made a diving save on a shot from distance by Bannan. On a shot aimed at the top right corner, Perkins was able to push Bannan’s effort with his fingertips up over the mark.
A corner kick from the right side by Songo’o set up Rincón’s goal 76th minute. Songo’o’s ball was flicked on by Kawulok along the near post and Rincón charged in on the back side to tap the free ball into an open net to pull the Timbers even at 1-1. Rincón’s strike was the first goal allowed by Aston Villa during its U.S. preseason tour, breaking a run of shutout play at 255 consecutive minutes.
Aston Villa pulled ahead 2-1 in the 80th minute, capitalizing on another corner kick play. Bannan from the right side served in another ball in at the back post. Defender Nathan Baker headed the ball out in front of the goal box and Lowton finished inside left post, beating Timbers second-half goalkeeper Joe Bendik.
The Timbers responded less than a minute later, when Wallace brought down a ball near the top of the box and had an initial shot blocked. Wallace than recollected the ball, worked by his defender and chipped a well-placed shot over the reach of Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan and into the top left corner of the goal to even the score line at 2-2.
With the score knotted at 2-2 at the end of regulation, the match would be decided in a penalty kick shootout. The two clubs traded goals through the first four rounds of the shootout, with Portland’s Rincón, Songo’o, Renken and Andrew Jean-Baptiste converting their opportunities. Aston Villa’s Bannan, Eric Lichaj, Gary Gardner and Charles N’Zogbia all made their attempts.
Guzan gave Aston Villa a chance take the match when he made a diving save on a hard shot hit by Dike to the right side of goal. Carruthers then stepped up and hit a shot under the crossbar to seal the exhibition win.
The Timbers return to league play Saturday as they play host to Chivas USA at JELD-WEN Field; kickoff is set for 8 p.m. (Pacific). Saturday’s Western Conference matchup will be televised live on ROOT SPORTS, with radio broadcasts available on 750 AM The Game and in Spanish on La Pantera 940 AM.