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Finlay Does It Again to Steal a Draw at Home

It appeared the Crew would drop their second game in a row before Ethan Finlay saved the day.

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

In a game that appeared set for doom and gloom, the Columbus Crew fought from behind once again to earn a dramatic 1-1 draw against Real Salt Lake in front of their home fans.

The night started off brightly with the Crew putting pressure on the Salt Lake defense in the opening stages. Columbus earned three early corners on a night that would see them produce 12 opportunities from the corner arc.

The second of the game led to the best opportunity of the first half. In the 11th minute, former Crew defender Rich Balchan - one of three former members of the Black and Gold in the Real stating 11 - held Agustin Viana as he looked to connect with his head.

The referee pointed to the penalty spot and Federico Higuain, who was three for three on the year on penalty kicks, stepped up looking for the lead, but it was not meant to be. The forward sailed the attempt over the Salt Lake goal and the game remained scoreless.

In the 21st minute, defender Josh Williams got involved in the action, hitting a bouncing half volley that forced a diving save from RSL goalkeeper Jeff Attinella, who started in place of Nick Rimando World Cup bound Nick Rimando.

The missed penalty kick likely would have been the worst news of the half if it hadn't been for Higuain pulling up midway through the opening stanza. The Crew's playmaker attempted to soldier on for several minutes, but was eventually forced off and replaced by Ben Speas.

Real, who elected to go with a more reserve 4-5-1 formation as opposed to their normal 4-4-2, did not create many chances in the first half.

RSL did have a half chance right before the whistle, but the dangerous cross to the back post was headed away by Bernardo Anor, who moved from his usual outside midfield position to left back for the game.

The second half opened with a good chance for the Black and Gold to take the lead from another corner. Speas' ball found the head of a marked Anor, whose attempt went wide of frame.

Salt Lake began a flurry of pressure following the miss, getting several dangerous crosses into the Crew penalty box.

The pressure finally amounted to something in the 56th minute, when a cleared corner was fired back in by Kenny Mansally. Clark made the save but the rebound fell to a huddle of Real players and Luis Gil hit it off the far post and in for a 1-0 lead.

After opening the scoring, it became the Attinella show. The reserve goalkeeper put on a remarkable performance denying chance after chance for the Crew.

First it was a stop on a breaking Dominic Oduro, which he deflected wide in the 64th minute. Nine minutes later he came out to punch away a cross from Williams that would have left Oduro with an easy finish at the back post.

After the 75th minute, Attinella really showed his stripes.  He made a diving save on a Hector Jimenez half volley from the top corner of the 18-yar box in the 76th minute, then another to deny Meram from the top of the box.

In what appeared to be the last good chance of the game for Black and Gold to equalize, Anor got deep into the penalty area and cut the ball back for second half substitute Adam Bedell. Bedell's redirect looked destined for the net before Attinella got down to make the save.

Just a minute later, second half substitute Ethan Finlay continued his hot streak and likely stole Attinella's man of the match honors.

Speas played a ball from near midfield to Finlay wide and in behind the Salt Lake defense and the outside midfielder took a touch into the box before chipping the Real goalkeeper, finally finding a shot he could not stop.

Streamers flew from the upper deck of Columbus Crew Stadium as another late equalizer preserved a point for the Crew.

Next up for Columbus is a trip to FedExField to take on D.C. United in a double header with the Spain's national team. This will be the final game before the three week World Cup break and the Black and Gold would like nothing more than to bring three points home after the exciting Wednesday draw.