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Acosta Brilliance Pushes FC Cincinnati to Historic 2-1 Victory in 2024's First Hell Is Real Derby

May 11, 2024 - Major League Soccer (MLS)
FC Cincinnati News Release

In the first meeting between Ohio's MLS clubs since the Eastern Conference Finals last season, the Hell is Real derby heated up once again as FC Cincinnati looked to earn its first win in Columbus in club history.

With intensities at their highest, The Orange and Blue started the match with misfortune as Alvas Powell was forced to sub out with an injury in the 13th minute. Powell, already starting in place of DeAndre Yedlin who could not make the start with a hip injury, was subbed out for Gerardo "Dado" Valenzuela with Yuya Kubo moving from striker to the wingback position.

With FCC reshuffling after the substitution, Columbus claimed the first dangerous chance of the match. Cucho Hernandez won a free kick at the top of the box forcing FCC to set up a wall just steps in front of the keeper, but Roman Celentano orchestrated his defenders perfectly to cut off opportunity and position himself to collect the shot with ease and snuff out the opportunity.

While the first half ended with the score nil-nil, FC Cincinnati not only had its chances, but closed the first half on the front foot. FCC controlled the larger share of possessions in 10 of the final 15 minutes of play and out-generated the Crew in xG by a margin of 0.7 to 0.3.

The star of the match though was the FC Cincinnati back line trio of Matt Miazga, Miles Robinson and Ian Murphy who all had shining moments expertly dispatching Columbus attack and turning away danger.

FC Cincinnati though turned it on in the 70th minute as Luciano Acosta engineered two magical moments that gave The Orange and Blue the lead in quick succession.

The first came in the 74th minute when Acosta took a run to the touch line and, as the last possible second, flicked a pass over the gloves of Patrick Schulte and onto the head of Kevin Kelsy (who came on in the 67th minute) to give FCC the lead on Kelsy's first goal for the club.

The second came just two minutes later when the 2023 MLS MVP dribbled through the Columbus box, avoiding two defenders before cutting back into the middle of the field and sending a shot past the frozen keeper and stunning the Lower.Com Field crowd.

Between those two moments though, Celentano delivered another heroic save on a well-struck shot from distance. The FCC keeper rose to his highest point, using all 6'1" of his height and wingspan to pick the shot out of the air and hold onto it for the save.

Columbus was able to claw one back in the 89th minute though, spoiling the clean sheet and adding drama to the end of the match. After a blocked initial shot bounced unfortunately to Columbus, the followup attempt curled around the diving Celentano to halve the score.

After six minutes of added time, and some heart-pounding moments, the ref blew his whistle and FC Cincinnati were victorious for the first time at Columbus Crew in the club's history and earned their fourth all-time win in Hell is Real.

With the win, FC Cincinnati improved to 7-2-3, winning their fourth in a row and earning their 24th point. The win further secured their second place spot in the Supporters' Shield standings, trailing only Inter Miami CF by 3 points while having the game in hand.

FC Cincinnati is back in action with a short turnaround returning home to TQL Stadium after this long road stretch. The Orange and Blue play their first double matchweek since the Concacaf Champions Cup, facing three games in eight days including the weekend match with Columbus. FCC will open the week on Wednesday with a home game against Atlanta United FC before hosting the league's youngest club, St. Louis CITY SC, on Saturday night in the club's first ever visit to the Queen City.

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