For the first time in their history, Vancouver FC has picked up a win in the Salish Sea Derby, as they defeated BC rivals Pacific FC 3-2 at Langley’s Willoughby Community Park.
Despite entering the game sitting in eighth place, sitting 18 points behind first-place Pacific, Vancouver did well to claim victory on the day, frustrating Pacific with a resilient performance on both sides of the ball.
With that, they also snapped a five-game winless streak, too, making it a big day all around for the expansion outfit.
Yet, that’d only be a credit to their performance, as they put in a shift right from minute one. For example, unlike in their previous two meetings, Vancouver FC managed to get off to the against their rivals, too, opening the scoring inside 11 minutes.
After a fantastic spell of possession, Shaan Hundal did well to slip into Pacific’s box after a 1-2 with Alejandro Díaz, before unleashing a ferocious shot. His attempt wouldn’t go in – Emil Gazdov would do well to save it with a strong pair of hands – but then the ball would then fall right to the feet of a wide-open Mikaël Cantave, who did well to slip the ball into the net from a tight angle off the post and in, giving his team their first-ever leads against their rivals.
At the other end, Pacific began to push, as they looked to respond quickly. To their credit, they’d nearly find that goal in the 20th minute, too, as Adonijah Reid did well to bring down a long ball from Cédric Toussaint with a perfect touch, but his subsequent shot would be easily saved by Vancouver’s Callum Irving.
Continuing to search for an equalizer, Pacific had another great look in the 37th minute. After Toussaint managed to win a free kick in a dangerous area, Manny Aparicio stepped up to take, but his free kick just skimmed the top of the goal to stay out.
Then, a minute later, Pacific had another great chance, as Adonijah Reid and Sean Young managed to link up nicely, leading to a dangerous shot from Young, one that required a strong leg save from Irving to keep the game at 1-0.
Eager to grab one back before half time, Pacific came close once again in the 45th minute, as Kunle Dada-Luke found Easton Ongaro with a perfect cross, but Ongaro would mistime his leap and head the ball well over despite being unmarked.
On the other side of half time, the relentless Pacific push continued, as Young came close to finding the back of the net in the 54th minute. After a mazy run into the box, he fired a dangerous shot with his left foot, one that was seemingly goalbound if not for a big block from a Vancouver defender.
Finally, Pacific’s persistence would pay off in the 65th minute, as they found their equalizing goal. After a nice dribble from Ayman Sellouf, who had come into the game at half time, he found Thomas Meilleur-Giguère with a low cross, and the centre back would make no mistake with his finish to make it 1-1.
They wouldn’t be done there, either. Not long after, they’d find a second, as David Brazão managed to find Djenairo Daniels with an inch-perfect low cross, and the Pacific forward would make no mistake with the chance, slotting home into a nearly empty net from about six yards out to give his team the lead.
Yet, despite having had to absorb all sorts of Pacific pressure for over 30 minutes, Vancouver wouldn’t be fazed by going down. In fact, they’d keep their tails up, and would find an equalizer in the 77th minute.
After doing well to win the ball back in midfield, they managed to set up a dangerous shot from Min-Jae Kwak, which would be blocked. Then, on the ensuing rebound, the ball would fall to Gabriel Bitar, who would make no mistake with a first-time finish to tie things back up.
Continuing some back-and-forth action, Pacific nearly grabbed their lead right back in the 81st minute. After a great run from Dada-Luke, he set up a wide-open Young with a perfect cutback, yet despite finding himself with a seemingly empty net, he’d be denied by a strong stop from Callum Irving.
Then, on the subsequent corner, Sellouf would fashion a dangerous shot, trying to surprise Irving at the near post from a tight angle, but the Vancouver goalkeeper would once again be up to task on that attempt.
At the other end, however, that would allow Vancouver to regain their lead, as they kept pushing after a winner. As a result, they’d find it in the 87th minute.
Doing well to catch Pacific in possession in midfield, Bitar would manage to unleash a dipping strike, one that would elude the hands of Gazdov to just sneak in, making it 3-2.
Eager to rescue a point back out of the game, Pacific would continue to push, however. Through that, Young would have a good look in the 91st minute, but didn’t manage to keep his strike down, sending it over the goal.
From there, however, that’d be all that Pacific would be able to muster up, leaving Vancouver to claim a special victory.