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Timbers advance in MLS return tournament

Portland's Jeremy Ebobisse celebrates after scoring in Portland's 2-1 win over the Houston Dynamo in the MLS is Back tournament in Orlando, Florida (AFP Photo/Mike Ehrmann)

(AFP)

The Portland Timbers punched their ticket to the round of 16 in Major League Soccer’s restart tournament Saturday with a 2-1 win over the Houston Dynamo.

Jeremy Ebobisse put Portland up 1-0 in the 35th minute, collecting a penetrating pass from Sebastian Blanco and firing an angled left-footed shot past Houston goalkeeper Marko Maric.

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The Timbers doubled their lead in the 61st when Diego Valeri’s left-footed shot hit the post and rolled in.

Houston pulled a goal back in the 86th with Alberth Elis’s penalty conversion. That followed a video review that judged Portland’s Jorge Villafana handled the ball in the penalty area.

But Houston’s hopes of mounting a charge dimmed two minutes later when Elis was sent off after receiving two yellow cards in as many minutes.

The first was for a challenge on Villafana, and the second came after he got tangled with Portland’s Bill Tuiloma.

The victory gave Portland six points in Group F and put them through to the knockout stages of the World Cup-style MLS is Back tournament that marks the league’s return from a coronavirus shutdown in a locked-down environment at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

Los Angeles FC and Houston follow Portland with one point apiece, with the Los Angeles Galaxy, who were vying to claim their first points of the competition when they faced LAFC in Saturday’s second match.

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