Galaxy turn in big second half to defeat LAFC in third El Trafico meeting

CARSON >> Both LAFC and the Galaxy experienced the highs and lows of soccer in the first half of Sunday’s third El Trafico meeting.

After dominating the first 45 minutes, LAFC left the field unlucky, unable to breakthrough on the scoreboard even though it forced the Galaxy defense into work early and often.

On the other side, the Galaxy went into halftime, had to feel lucky for the game to be scoreless.

However, that all changed early in the second half as the Galaxy (4-3-2, 14 points) put forth a dominant 45 minutes en route to a 3-0 rout.

“Everyone worked very hard after the games where we couldn’t get points in Orlando (at the MLS is Back Tournament), but we are working right now very hard,” Galaxy coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto said. “We are really good, really happy with the team. The second half, the level was high.

“We have a lot of respect for them, we recognize they are really good, good players, really good coach …today we beat them and we are very happy.  I’m really happy we beat a good team twice and every player worked hard today.”

The win gives the Galaxy the season series against LAFC (3-3-3, 12 points) and increases the club’s current winning streak to four games.

In the 51st minute, Cristian Pavon opened the scoring for the Galaxy (4-3-2, 14 points) chipping the ball over the head of LAFC goalkeeper Pablo Sisniega for what proved to be the winning goal.

“It’s a bad goal to give up, especially when we had the chances in the first half,” LAFC coach Bob Bradley said.

The play materialized down the left wing as Emiliano Insua played the ball into space, allowing Pavon to get in on goal.

Four minutes later, the game took another big twist as LAFC defender Mark-Anthony Kaye was sent off with a red card after a reckless tackle on Julian Araujo, leaving LAFC down to 10 men.

The Galaxy eventually capitalized in the 73rd minute as Pavon played a quick ball off a free kick toward Lletget, who was beat Sisniega toward the near post for a 2-0 lead.

Lletget was back at it in the 83rd minute with a spectacular bicycle kick goal for a 3-0 lead. The two goals give Lletget four since the season restarted last month.

“It’s always something that you dream about and when it hit the back of the net, it was a special thing,” Lletget said. “In a classic game, a rivalry game, I think it makes it even more special.”

Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham kept the team in the game in the first half, coming up with seven saves as LAFC opened the game buzzing on offense.

“We played a good first half, but you have to come away with at least a goal,” LAFC coach Bob Bradley said. “We come in at halftime, still with the idea that now it will take 45 minutes to keep pushing the game, but then we make two back-to-back mistakes.”

LAFC recorded 14 shots in the first half, compared to only one for the Galaxy.

“He was very focused,” Schelotto said of Bingham. “He provided a lot of security for the team. I’m happy for him.”

LAFC won the first meeting between the teams this season, 6-2 in Florida at the MLS is Back Tournament. The Galaxy returned to favor and evened the season series with a 2-0 win, Aug. 22 at Banc of California Stadium.

The restart hasn’t been kind to Bob Bradley and LAFC. After losing to the Galaxy, Aug. 22, LAFC also suffered a 3-1 decision to the Seattle Sounders. Last Wednesday, things turned around with a 5-1 thrashing of San Jose, but along with the three losses on the field, the injuries to Eduard Atuesta and Carlos Vela have severely hampered any momentum LAFC has tried to build.

“In the moment when we are facing some tough times, everybody has to really fight harder,” Bradley said.

LAFC will return to action Wednesday at Real Salt Lake.

The Galaxy will not have midweek game and will return Sunday on the road at San Jose.