- The winner of the third and final game will face either Orlando City or Nashville
- Game 3 of the series will return to Columbus where the Crew took Game 1
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Star forward Giorgos Giakoumakis scored and picked up two assists as Atlanta United fought off elimination with a 4-2 victory against the Columbus Crew on Tuesday in Match two of a best-of-three Eastern Conference first-round playoff series.
The deciding match will be played Sunday in Columbus, where the Crew won the opener 2-0 on Nov. 1.
Whichever team wins the deciding match of the series will advance to a conference semifinal knockout match against either Orlando City or Nashville SC.
Giakoumakis gave Atlanta a 1-0 lead in the 38th minute. Cucho Hernandez continued his hot streak to tie it in the 45th before Giakoumakis set up Xande Silva for the go-ahead score in the fourth minute of first-half stoppage time, then fed Edwin Mosquera for a goal in the 83rd minute for a 3-1 advantage.
With the Crew pressing, Thiago Almada, who was suspended for the first postseason match after receiving a red card in the regular-season finale, made it 4-1 in the 88th minute.
Atlanta United pulled off a 4-2 win against the Columbus Crew to keep their playoff hopes alive
Atlanta forward Giorgos Giakoumakis (R) scored a goal and grabbed two assists in the win
The winner of the matchup between the two teams on Sunday will decide who wins the series
The Crew’s Max Arfsten scored in the fifth minute of second-half stoppage time for the final margin.
It was a frenetic end to the first half befitting the Crew, the top-scoring team in MLS, and Atlanta, the league’s second-highest scoring club.
Giakoumakis, named the MLS Newcomer of the Year on Thursday after he led Atlanta with 17 goals, was the recipient of a perfect cross from Brooks Lennon for an unmarked header from 6 yards to open the scoring.
The Crew responded off a turnover with Diego Rossi receiving a feed from Steven Moreira. Rossi dribbled to the top of the box then found Hernandez, who scored both goals in the first match, on the left side for a shot that snuck inside the left post.
Hernandez has 13 goals in the past 10 matches and 19 for the season including the playoffs.
Atlanta came back on the transition and had numbers in the box when Giakoumakis passed to Silva, who restored the visitors’ lead going into the break.
Mosquera executed a give-and-go with Giakoumakis for the two-goal lead and some breathing room, and Almada padded the lead. Almada had 11 goals and 19 assists in the regular season.